Eventim Apollo Hammersmith 12th September 2014
Earlier this year we reported that the legendary Kate Bush was up to something. We assumed that she must be planning to release a new album; of course, this prospect was hugely exciting. A few months later she announced that she was planning a series of live dates, something we fans thought impossible. The race was now on to get hold of a ticket for the most anticipated live event in, well, 35 years.
The atmosphere at the Eventim Apollo was full of anticipation and excitement, I've never been to a show that had such a buzz. I spoke to one guy who had come from Australia to see her! It has to be said that KB's fans are certainly patient and loyal. Despite rarely giving interviews or doing much promo for her work her albums continue to sell well when they are released because of how her music connects with people. Tonight that connection would be taken to a whole new level of experience.
As the lights dimmed, the voice over from Lily kicked in before an extended intro of the song saw the backing singers and Kate marching across the stage to a thunderous standing ovation.
Kate's understated entrance is exactly what you'd expect from the reluctant star. After greeting her audience with a fair amount of regality and humility, (she appeared genuinely moved by the audience reaction throughout the show.) She raises her microphone and sings "Oh Lily, I don't feel safe..." From this special moment, the audience is captivated and in total awe of the history, they are witnessing. Kate gives an incredible performance and her voice is sublime with a serious mezzo-soprano belt. Hearing her perform Top Of The City, from The Red Shoes was truly magical.
"It's in the trees, it's coming" the crowd goes wild at the introduction of Hounds Of Love. I have to admit it takes a lot to really move me, but seeing Kate and her wonderful band performing one of my favourite songs brought tears to my eyes. An incredible moment which was felt across the entire audience, we were witnessing something very special here. If anyone can name that tune in one, it will be the KB fans! Running Up That Hill comes next and it brings the roof down. Another standing ovation follows, this becomes the pattern of the night; Whenever it is possible and the music allows the crowd to get on their feet to show their devotion and appreciation.
After the traditional concert setting to warm up the audience, the long-awaited theatrical performance of The Ninth Wave begins. The flip side of the Hounds Of Love EP takes us on a visual and aural experience that is pure Kate Bush.
A video is shown of our heroine lost at sea, floating in the darkness sets the scene and is used throughout the segment to great effect taking us in and out of the dreamlike world. Dream Of Sheep, one of Kate's most magnificent songs begins our journey of survival in the watery world. There is confetti with The Ninth Wave poem blown out into the stalls (a nice souvenir to grab at the interval), skeleton fish people who lurk in a sinister fashion throughout the piece, even carrying our heroine off through the audience and plenty of theatrics and special effects.
Under Ice sees the rescue team attacking the stage with chainsaws and picks in a desperate attempt to pull our heroine out of her icy tomb and Waking The Witch presents a wonderful physicalization of the frantic music and is wonderfully effective visual storytelling. The finale of the section is The Morning Fog, an uplifting tune which returns us to the conventional concert setting. During the song, the band take centre stage with Kate. "I love you better now" she sings to every one of us, how chuffed do we feel!
Sky Of Honey has a simpler staging but is still no less enthralling taking us into a mystical creative landscape with birds and a rather cute artists model who is as beguiled by the music as the audience. Somewhere In between, An Architect’s Dream and Aerial are musically textured and offer a bright contrast to dark themes of The Ninth Wave. Taking on the role of the Artist during this section is young Albert 'Bertie' McIntosh, who performed a new song, Tawny Moon. He has a melodic and strong tenor voice and at only 16 his stagecraft and presence is advanced and he can really captivate an audience.
The encore sees Kate perform Among Angels solo on the piano, which brings the intimate nature of the concert full circle. The evening ends with an outstanding version of Cloudbusting with the audience in fine voice singing along and Kate clearly relishing them singing with her. A truly special and magical moment.
Before The Dawn really is an ensemble show. It was great to see the wonderfully talented performers and musicians alongside Kate sharing the limelight and taking their bows together. The entire K fellowship deserve praise for their work on this beautiful and superb theatrical tour de force.
Kate Bush is a musical genius who has touched so many lives with her work. It was truly an honour to have spent an evening in her company.