It began with a standing ovation. It ended with a standing ovation. Each of the first seven songs were greeted with standing ovations. Of course. How could it be otherwise? This was, after all, Kate Bush’s first live concert in 35 years, the inaugural performance in a run of 22 shows that sold out in mere minutes when first announced back in March. Reading the first night reviews, and audience responses across social media, was like assessing the minutes of The Superlative Aficionados Annual Meeting, such was the rapturous response to the three-hour, four-act show, which one reviewer went so far as to describe as “the most extraordinary live event of the century”. Maybe it was. Breakdowns of the show certainly suggest that something extraordinary happened last night. As far as we can assess, this is how the evening unfolded. Those with tickets for a forthcoming show who want to preserve the element of surprise should look away now. Those of you who couldn’t make it might want to use this handy guide to re-enact events in your own home. Act 1 Lily It begins in darkness, apparently, a chant for protection from the Rig Veda that leads into a song about fear, magic and safety from The Red Shoes, a barefoot Bush sporting a long, flowing black-and-gold cape leading a procession of backing singers onto the stage. Accompanied by a seven-piece band, she leads them through the evening’s “hits” section. Hounds Of Love Joanni Top Of The City Running Up That Hill King Of The Mountain
Act 2 The coup de théâtre portion of the evening begins with cannons firing out confetti scrolls bearing a passage from Tennyson’s The Coming of Arthur. A short film is shown in which an astronomer reports the sighting of a sinking ship. Apocalypse Now helicopter whup-whups fill an auditorium now kitted out to resemble the interior of a whale for a dramatic rendering the entire side two song-suite from her 1985 masterpiece, The Hounds Of Love. Kate is raised aloft by fish-men and carried through the stalls while sailors in lifejackets brandish hatchets and a chainsaw.
The Ninth Wave: And Dream Of Sheep Under Ice Waking The Witch Watching You Without Me Jig Of Life Hello Earth The Morning Fog
Act 3 For the performance of the entire suite from side two of 2005’s Aerial, A Sky Of Honey, the stage is kitted out to resemble Ivan Aivazovsky’s inspirational 1850 painting of the same name. One vignette features Kate’s 16 year-old son Bertie playing the painter. MOJO’s Andrew Perry, who was at the show reports here that “During one astonishing, dramatic crescendo, Bush soared aloft on vast wings spanning some 20 feet”. But by this point reviewers seemed so rapturously lost in the moment that the whole experience could have been but one joyous mass hallucination.
A Sky Of Honey: Prelude Prologue An Architect’s Dream The Painter’s Link Sunset Aerial Tal Somewhere In Between Nocturne Aerial
Encore Among Angels (Kate at the piano, alone) Cloudbusting
The final ovation lasted for 10 minutes. We’ll be there tonight, assessing the rumour, rapture and reason against our own experiences. Pop back tomorrow for the doubtless cool-headed mojo4music.com verdict. In the meantime, check out our new issue with Kate Bush on the cover and featuring the full story of the making of the Hounds Of Love PLUS! Her 50 Greatest Songs analysed and discussed. It’s the next best thing to being there.
Photo: Ken McKay/REX