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Friday, September 16, 2016

Revisiting Before The Dawn: Part 4, The Light Changes...

After the trauma and rescue of The Ninth Wave, we are all waiting to see what world Kate Bush would conjure for us in Act Two of Before the Dawn. At first it seems as if darkness still prevails. Snow is falling. An imposing set of doors dominates the stage, a small puppet child walks through them, passing into our world. He second guesses the decision, but it is too late: the doors slam in his face.


The puppet, let's call him Tesoro, searches around, looking for his parents. Something is there, calling to him.
"The day is full of birds."
Tesoro thinks he can understand these creatures, talk to them even. Perhaps this new world isn't so frightening after all.

But then the mood shifts. There is danger here. Nature is beautiful, yes, but it is cruel too. These birds may mean him harm. Just when fear begins to overwhelm him, Tesoro hears another voice beckon him...
"Over here. Over here."


Kate is waiting at the piano with the band. Tesoro walks over to investigate. Kate sings, soothes. It's going to be so good now; what a lovely afternoon it has become.

The summer light has now fully banished the cold and dark: the stage is bathed in golden rays. The lark ascends. This light is on a journey, bringing traces of distant landscapes it has touched, dancing rays from Italy. The birds speak the language of light; they sing to it, responding to its arc across this sky of honey.

"The mistle thrush and wood pigeon, the chaffinch and the robin, 
the blackbird and the siskin, 
like golden light dripping... and golden bells..."

The Prologue we knew has been transformed into an extended celebration of summer. Bells are ringing, echoing from a sensual world. Kate is joined by a Chorus, together they engage in full circle ringing, as birds take flight across the stage in slow-motion majesty.

"Ring it, shake it down, bring it on, let it in."

I feel exhilarated, bells and birdsong ring in my ears, my heart catching every beat of the exultant percussion and rapturous bass. The quality of the musicians Kate has assembled is now fully evident; this is her symphony and this orchestra is ideally constructed to fully realise her concept.

"What a lovely afternoon, what a lovely afternoon. Oh will you come with us, 
to find the song of the oil and the brush..."

An Architect's Dream

Kate takes Tesoro's hand and they walk out into the afternoon sun. They happen upon a Painter who is working on a huge canvass, filling half the stage. He looks a bit like Bertie.

The Painter is not keen on being watched. Tesoro and Kate keep their distance, carefully admiring the creation, the chiaroscuro. The light is constantly changing, the sky flickers as brush strikes canvass. But is the Painter simply observing, or does he have the power to transform this sky? Is this piece of work we see him forming cause or effect? Accident or design?

The Painter's Link
"It's raining. What has become of my painting?"
All of the Painter's hard work is in danger of being undone. His painstakingly placed dabs are beginning to run with the raindrops. But this is no disaster, just one more transformation.

"See what they have become..."
Kate and her Chorus rally to the Painter's aid. The light is changing, yes, the paint is merging, but this is simply a different creation. Now there are reds and oranges and yellows and pinks... a wonderful sunset...

"Who knows who wrote that song of summer that blackbirds sing at dusk?"
The diurnal journey is approaching its end, a vermilion descent alerting nature that it will soon be time to sleep, or to hunt. Kate serenades the sun, telling its story of crimson, red and rust, and of goodbyes.

This carmine light has danced in from Spain, it sets the song aflame, a flamenco farewell to the sun. The compás sweeps us all along, we add palmas fuertes, bailamos...
"The day writes the words right across the sky,
they go all the way up to the top of the night."

What a lovely afternoon. We have followed the sunlight, marveled at its many aspects, watched as it transfigured the fabric of time. But this day is not over yet. There is another power at work, waiting to take the stage. After all, it is always darkest...

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  2. Lovely description and nice to see those photos again! Well done!