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Live non-review: Kate Bush, Before The Dawn At London Hammersmith Apollo

26 August? Three whole years since Kate Bush opened her already legendary run of Before The Dawn concerts? 12 months since she broke all chart records and saw every one of her eleven (11!) albums back in the charts?

My my, the time do fly!

When the shellshock news broke in March 2014 that Kate was going to stage some shows for the first time since her sole tour of 1979, I was at the Sydney apartment of my then fella, and I happened to glance at a Facebook post by Dave Cross, who briefly made reference to KB confirming a series of shows.

I was instantaneously dumfounded, awestruck, excited but also a little disappointed. I’d only arrived in Australia the month before, determined to make a life here, and I couldn’t believe I was having to think about going back to London already. “There’s no way I’m missing this,” I told the boyf firmly. “Kate Bush is the only person that could drag me back to Blighty so soon. I can’t believe we’ve waited so long for her to make a comeback on stage, and she goes and bloody announces it just after I’ve left the UK. Fuck!”

Sod’s law, but when I managed to bag a couple of premium seats in the stalls on the opening night that was most certainly worth the time, effort and readies. I’ve got a recording of the first few minutes of that show somewhere. I do remember screaming so loudly for an eternity when she made her entrance that the bloke in front of us looked round in absolute astonishment!

The other memory was sobbing uncontrollably during Running Up That Hill, I’m not ashamed to admit (well, maybe I was at the time!). Other than that it’s all a bit of a blur; so much so that I patiently and zealously await the purported official film of the show. But as we all, know, this artist works at her own pace, and we’ve grown accustomed to her pace.

For all the plaudits garnered by Kate’s shock return to the stage, it was, admittedly, a very narrow reading of her output. Of her nine original studio albums (i.e. excluding 2011’s Director’s Cut) she played nothing at all from five of them and only one track from the most recent, 50 Words For Snow. To put it another way, she ignored almost two thirds of her entire body of work. Anyway, set-list gripes aside, this was a little something I penned the following morning:

Going in!

This is not a review, but I’d like to get across how Kate Bush last night was an incredibly moving, almost ‘religious’ experience. There are plenty of my fave raves that I sadly never got to witness in a concert capacity – Dusty Springfield, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Donna Summer et al, but in the contemporary world of rock & pop, Kate Bush stood out like the proverbial bloody sore thumb as the one working British artist I grew up with who was seemingly determined to elude my live tendencies forever.

On 26 August 2014 at exactly 19:45 BST all that changed. And how. The moment Kate revealed herself at the tail end of a slow conga I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much at a gig in my life – so much so that the couple in the seats in front of me did a half turn of the head in shock.

He’s behind me! That’s the silver fox that is Del Palmer, Kate’s erstwhile collaborator, partner and all-round good guy

Why were they shocked at such an outpouring of emotion? Kate could have come on dressed as Margaret Thatcher singing How Much Is That Doggy In The Window and the reception wouldn’t have been any less rapturous. And I’m man enough to admit that I sobbed uncontrollably throughout the glacial Running Up That Hill, the first KB record I ever showed an interest in, and issued at the exact moment I went from being a mere schoolboy to a college student with a future.

Yes, there may have been mutterings about the lack of singles, but the reason Kate is so damn respected, nay, revered, is because unlike her idols, the grand old dames Bowie and his arch nemesis Elton, she’s never been interested in that ghastly word celebrity, and never flinched from her bloody minded refusal to present her art on her own terms. This is why we love her – those admirable qualities to never compromise, never play the game and to do what the fuck she wants.

And that incudes the slight interlude hindrance of allowing her stage school son Bertie to do his own am-dram Van Gogh meets Ed Sheeran thing in the song Tawny Moon, which mum composed especially for the show. It’s the painter’s link, see.

Say goodnight to the folks, KT

In that respect, Kate Bush has had more of an influence on me than any other performer or artist living or dead. A truly free spirit. So I’m sure she won’t mind my steadfast refusal to bow to the No Cameras rule. As if I was ever going to comply with that. I mean, really!

Steve Pafford

PS And if by magic, here’s that excitable audio. Oh my god!

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