Friday, 29 August 2014

Kate Bush

So, I can't be absolutely certain, but I'm pretty sure Kate Bush just sang Cloudbusting especially for me!

We have just emerged from the musical event of the year, the most hotly anticipated live gig that perhaps there has ever been. Kate Bush at the Hammersmith Apollo.

The air of expectation as we arrived at the venue was quite extraordinary. Everyone was having their photograph taken in front of the sign which said "Before The Dawn: sold out." Ushers were trying to keep people moving, but everyone wanted to savour every moment.

The merchandise stalls were mobbed. I bought a mug. I wanted to honour Kate's request to not take photographs during the gig, so figured a mug would give me something tangible to take away with me.

She came on stage singing the song Lily from the Red Shoes album. I got so excited that tears started spurting from my eyes. Her singing was really rather fabulous. She sang in a robust area of her voice; a blend of re-enforced head voice and a far less familiar chest belt.

Everything started like a rock concert. The band (which included a double drum kit) played from a plinth. Kate Bush stood in front, in a spotlight, belting out some of the more familiar numbers; Hounds of Love, Running Up That Hill, King of the Mountain...

And then everything sort of disintegrated... The band was trucked to the back of the stage, people dressed as fish skeletons rushed on, and Ms Bush appeared in a film sequence floating in the sea whilst performing And Dream of Sheep from the Hounds of Love album. It soon became apparent that she was going to do the unimaginable and perform the entire Ninth Wave.

For those who don't know The Hounds of Love, the Ninth Wave is the album's epic B side; a through-composed psycho-drama sung from the perspective of a drowning woman. And she did the lot. With panache. There were helicopters floating above the audience, huge silks which billowed like waves. At one point an entire house trucked on and Kate's real-life son Bertie sat on a sofa delivering the most surreal monologue about sausages. It was peculiar, amazing, moving, eccentric,  sumptuous, perplexing... All the things you want a Kate Bush concert to be.

Kate herself came across as entirely unpretentious and utterly un-enigma-like. Very warm and friendly in fact. Between songs, she seemed just like someone's Mum. Before the interval she said "we're gonna have a little break now. See you in a little bit..." And off she went, waving like she'd just won the bingo!

The second half focussed mostly on the Ariel album. When you're Kate Bush, you have too many hits to even try to cram in. You don't need to sing Wuthering Heights or Baboushka or This Woman's World. If you chose not to sing a single song from your latest album, no one will complain. The highlight of the second half was almost certainly Ms Bush's live recreation of her duet with a blackbird! On the Ariel album it was audacious enough, but when you recreate, chirp for chirp, the sound of a series of blackbird calls, in perfect time, you are a God. She is a God. I cried again.

Just before the end of the evening she sang a song I didn't know, just her and a piano (which they'd just dropped an enormous tree through). The hall fell silent, and there it was; that familiar Kate Bush ballad sound. Those open piano chords. That voice which jumps up and down octaves. The warm vibrato. The notes which fade to dust but somehow end with a seductive heavy consonant. It was a magical moment, made more magical by her finishing the set with Cloudbusting, the most anthemic of all of her songs. It will take me a long time to forget the image of row upon row of hands clapping in time at waist level, and then, as elation grew, above the head, and then a Mexican wave of people simply standing up because they didn't know how else to show their excitement.

And so the concert ended with everyone on their feet, which I guess can only be called a premature-standing ovation!

And I fulfilled a life-long ambition which no one will ever be able to erase from my memory.

Kate Bush. You have made me the luckiest man on the planet. Not only did you just sing beautifully, you did so on the twelfth anniversary of my relationship with my husband Nathan! Thank you from the very bottom of my heart! What a way to mark twelve years!

No comments:

Post a Comment