Thoughts on Kate Bush – Before The Dawn

The KT Fellowship
Before The Dawn

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Half-Life Music may be approaching its fifth anniversary, but this is the first chance I’ve had to say something about a new Kate Bush release. I’m lucky. I might easily have had to wait another five years before I got the chance. Anyway, the occasion has clearly gotten to me, because instead of the usual beautifully crafted review, here are five more or less random thoughts on the magnificent Before The Dawn:

  • It’s emotional. It’s emotional for Kate. It’s emotional for the crowd. It’s just emotional. It’s not like I’m one of those people who’s switched from Christmas to Katemas (30 July), but it means a lot to hear her sing a song like ‘And Dream Of Sheep’ after all these years. Truly, it’s an emotional experience.
  • More than ever, it makes me crave a Director’s Cut 2. As her voice deepens, new textures emerge in all of the older songs. It would have been lovely to have heard one or two more, but at least we’re treated to a version of ‘Never Be Mine’ that was never performed in the live set.
  • There’s still an unmistakeable ’80s vibe to the playing particularly on Act One. It’s the unforgiving percussion and the bass that does it. But even the newer songs sound like they could have been premiered on Wogan. And that’s just fine.
  • Individual songs on The Ninth Wave can be just as transcendent as the album versions, but here the whole is a little less than the sum of the parts. The BBC Drama-style dialogue is mainly to blame. But there’s a sense that the story has been told a little too literally and that the some of the wonderful mystery has been lost. What it all means is that for Act Two, you really had to be there.
  • Actually, it’s Aerial that’ll end up being remembered as her classic album. Here, there’s not even room for such sublime tracks as ‘Pi’, ‘Mrs. Bartolozzi’, and ‘A Coral Room’. Even so, the versions of ‘Joanni’ and ‘King of the Mountain’ stand out. And it’s almost impossible to imagine that a live version of ‘A Sky of Honey’ could outshine the original, but it does. It’s more coherent. Slightly funkier. And there’s no sign of Rolf Harris.

Before The Dawn has helped make a horrible 2016 just that little bit better. That’s recommendation enough. Oh, and it comes with a lovely little booklet too.

 

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