Trying to sum up how I felt about Kate Bush Before the Dawn is difficult, having loved her and her music since I was about thirteen. It was everything I love about her and everything that drives me crazy about her in one evening, plus a whole bunch of other stuff on top. It always comes back to the fact that I’d rather have her ambitious failures than someone else’s timid successes.
A fantastic band; Albert McIntosh (Bertie Bush) is a talented young man and strong stage presence; Kate still has a wonderful, powerful voice; hearing afresh how great these songs are – Lily; King of the Mountain (percussion); Top of the City (vocals); Watching You Without Me (maybe a desert island disc); Waking the Witch.
The spectacle; a “helicopter” that searches the audience like a sea for a drowning woman; a wonky room that slides back and forth and showers sparks during Watching You Without Me; a gigantic revolving moon; a tree that spears a piano; a choir hanging off a buoy during Hello Earth; gigantic doors; Kate with a raven’s wing; Kate taking off.
Kate loves hammy acting! There is a definite Bush school of Lion, Cross and Curve playacting that cannot be found anywhere else, and was there in the interstitial scenes during the ninth wave. Watching You Without Me (clearly becoming a pivotal piece in this review) is set up with a bit of sixth form skittery that drags.
The thing that threw me was walking to the venue from Hammersmith Tube. There is a small improvised shrine to Rik Mayall on a traffic Island on Hammersmith roundabout, near where he filmed the opening intro to Bottom. The fact that he was the same age as Kate, from the same circle, and a professional colleague, and that Kate was a big fan of his, leant the evening a slightly macabre quality. It also made me think about who we hold dear and how we honour them, which was fitting given the nature of the evening and the slightly creepy, over the top adulation attached to Kate.