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Friday, August 26, 2016

Revisiting Before The Dawn: Part I, The Dawn Breaks...

At 7.30pm two years ago tonight (British Summer Time), Kate Bush took to the stage to present Before the Dawn, her first live concert in 35 years, 3 months and 12 days. Not that I was counting. In fact, I had long before given up believing that I would ever get to see Kate play live.

Being a Kate Bush fan in the last two decades has meant accepting certain truths. You must wait. You will get good at it. And every now and then Kate will give you something magical. Something that makes the months and years in between dissolve into nothing. And you're grateful. Ecstatic. Which is why the short note that appeared on Kate's website on Friday 21 March 2014 sent my sensual world into a frenzy:

I am delighted to announce that we will be performing some live shows this coming August and September.
       I hope you will be able to join us and I look forward to seeing you there.
          We'll keep you updated with further news on the web site.
                  Meanwhile, all details of concert dates and tickets are in the note below.
                    Very best wishes,


[Trevor Leighton]

I must have had to read those words fifty or so times, before I dared to believe it was true. My mood spun from dizzy bliss at such incredible news to heart-wrenching fear that I might not get to go. The week waiting for tickets to go on sale was one of fitful sleep, giddy excitement and slowly dissipating shock. I was thankfully one of the lucky band able to secure a ticket. Now all that was required was the bit I was good at: waiting.

The media went into meltdown, which must have confused the hell out of most people under 30. There was rabid speculation as to what the shows might be like, but Kate was staying mum. The only hints were the show's title, Before the Dawn, and a photograph of Kate in the water wearing a lifejacket. Any Kate fan would instantly know this meant that The Ninth Wave, a concept piece about a woman lost at sea that formed half of 1985's Hounds of Love album, must feature prominently. Only Kate would decide to tour an album for the first time thirty years after its release! 

[Trevor Leighton]

To pass the time in the run-up to the shows, I produced a 50-day countdown on this blog, which told the tale of Kate's career (for an index, here's the whole story). My intention was to follow this up with my review of Before the Dawn once the shows had concluded, but I found the whole experience so overwhelming it didn't seem possible to express in words what seeing this show had meant to me. Then I decided to wait for the inevitable DVD and write my review then, but it now seems possible that Kate has decided against such a release (if that ever was her intention). So I've decided the time has come to revisit that miraculous night and share my thoughts and recollections, partly so that I can convince myself that this all really happened and partly to try and preserve the memories before time robs me of the finer details. 

Kate's residency at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London, lasted for six weeks, so my tale will be in six parts over the same six weeks, enough to properly do justice to the love, care and artistry put into the show by the KT Fellowship (this was Kate's name for her tour company, her usual humble acknowledgement that her work is not created in isolation).

For those lucky enough to see Before the Dawn, I hope it triggers your own memories. For those that missed out, I hope it provides some small insight into the worlds Kate conjured for us on that stage.

Until the next time then. What was that? Yes, Lily, I'm coming...

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

50 Words For Kate: The Whole Story

Two years ago I wrote a series of fifty blogs that covered the career of Kate Bush, in anticipation of her first live concerts in thirty-five years. The blogs began with Kate's debut single, Wuthering Heights, back in 1978 and ended the day of the first show of Before the Dawn, her critically acclaimed stage show. This index is designed to aid fellow fans or curious readers who might want to find a particular blog entry. I hope you enjoy my personal journey through Kate's amazing body of work,

Click on the title word to be taken directly to that blog:

An Introduction: it does what it says on the tin
50.  Wuthering:  some incredible facts about Kate's No.1 debut single
49.  Rolling: Kate visits Japan. More fun than it sounds...
48.  Kicking: Kate's extraordinary debut album
47.  Stretching: one of the greatest love songs of all time
46.  Cropping: some photoshoots that probably felt like a good idea at the time...
45.  Loving: Kate teaches British children about homosexuality... no, really
44.  Roaring: two albums in one year? That's surely never going to happen again...
43.  Spinning: how Kate nearly led me into a life of crime
42.  Touring: the legendary first tour in 1979
41.  Special: Kate gets her own TV show
40.  Breathing: remember when we used to worry about imminent nuclear attack?
39.  Delight: she wanted to test her husband, she knew exactly what to do...
38.  Imitation: an impressionist's dream
37.  Exciting: Kate takes control on her third album, Never For Ever
36.  Waltzing: a cautionary tale told in 3/4 time
35.  Magic: an underrated Christmas classic
34.  Knowledge: some say it's Sat in Your Lap
33.  Dreaming: Kate's fourth album, a work of genius
32.  Baffling: a flop single (or two), is Kate's career over?
31.  Running: No. It's only just begun...
30.  Hunting: when Hounds of Love ruled the charts
29.  Waving: a first concept piece, The Ninth Wave
28.  Katemas: my favourite annual holiday
27.  Talking: why Kate doesn't like interviews
26.  Soothing: b-sides themselves
25.  Experimenting: a compilation album and a new single
24.  Collaborating: some of Kate's work with other artists
23.  Cathy: Kate's childhood is revealed in photography and song
22.  Composing: Kate's music for film
21.  Yes: Kate returns again and I make a new best friend
20.  Sensual: Kate explores a female energy on The Sensual World
19.  Trio: collaborating with the Trio Bulgarka
18.  Comic: Kate acts!
17.  Trivia: the 1990 convention and my claim to Kate fame
16.  Rocketing: Kate pays tribute to her childhood hero, Elton John
15.  Pleasure: an emotional return with a new song, Moments of Pleasure
14.  Bouncing: Kate has a new single, but which track would it be?
13.  Red: the story of The Red Shoes
12.  Healing: two contrasting cover versions from 1994
11.  Happening: The Line, The Cross & The Curve, debuts at the London Film Festival
10.  Missing: 1995-2005, the lost decade. Or was it?
9.  Happy: is Elvis alive? This and other mysteries explored in King of the Mountain
8.  Glorious: Aerial, Kate's first album in 12 years
7.  Masterpiece: my thoughts on A Sky of Honey, from Aerial
6.  Understanding: a surprise announcement and a sort-of new single in 2011
5.  Directing: revisiting tracks from previous albums on Director's Cut
4.  Snowing: Kate's 10th studio album, 50 Words for Snow
3.  Misty: the tale of a woman and a snowman
2.  Queen: Kate is honoured for her work
1.  Dawning: the day Kate returned to the stage after a 35-year absence