And then, it finally happened.
Unavoidably I cried.
Little light shining,
Little light will guide them to me
My face is all lit up, my face is all lit up
If they find me racing white horses,
They’ll not take me for a buoy
Let me be weak, Let me sleep
And dream of sheep
“And dream of sheep”, the beginning of the “Hounds of Love”‘s suite, a lyric and a song absolute, definitive, couldn’t help but defeating me with a theatrical setup like that.
Anyway the emotion had begun much earlier, with a pounding heart and a sensational party atmosphere, almost religious, to the tune of “Lily”, the beginning of a concert and a show, that of Kate Bush’s Hammersmith Apollo after 35 years of absence from the scene, which will surely remain in history.
“Lily”, one of my top ten songs to bring in the famous deserted island, a propitiatory song, really on the verge of religion.
Kate barefoot, regularly black-dressed as a priestess, comes in from the side, almost in a whisper, followed by backing vocals, and the scream that I heard, the reception, is something that I have never witnessed in any show, ever.
The first thing that I noticed was the band, a war machine of instruments’ gods (Omar Hakim on drums, Mino Cinelu on percussions, David Rhodes on guitar, John Giblin on bass … pretty much the cream of the brood of grandchildren of Miles Davis, Peter Gabriel and many others. Today the university of music), controlled by the supremely crystal clear Hakim’s drums who, of course, along with Rhodes, is the driving force of the sound.
The “Lily” start is one of the most perfect things I’ve ever seen on a stage.
The stage show begins as a concert in paradise, still remaining a traditional concert.
Impeccable as always, the London audience, though overwhelmed by emotions, stays in its place, no films, no photos, sits down at the beginning of every song, following the clear request that Kate cleverly asked before the first of this series of 22 “theatrical” concerts.
Kate, in an impressive vocal shape, really on the verge of divine, effortlessly rattles off songs from his boundless and extraordinary repertoire: Lily, Hounds of Love, Joanni (in a version to die for), Top of the city, Running Up That Hill (greeted by a roar that shook the foundations of the dear, old, although renovated, Apollo), King of the mountain (another wonderful version, even greater than on record).
We would go on like this for hours and no one would ever say anything, it would still have been the peak of a career in music voyeuring.
But the lyrics of the final “King of the Mountain” should have warned us:
The wind is whistling
The wind is whistling
Through the house
Here, as announced, the concert quickly becomes something else with a wonderful coup de théâtre, it becomes immediately a lavish multimedia musical.
Lights, wind, and suddenly the band disappears in the background, a shipwreck is staged in a few seconds.
A shipwreck on stage.
And a rescue helicopter that travels over the heads of the lucky witnesses, flooded by the lights, the screams and the music.
I have attended years of concerts, musicals, theatre seen and partly done behind the scenes.
I do not remember such an impact, never seen anything comparable, let alone in conventional rock concerts.
At this moment the genius of Adrian Noble immediately shines, Adrian, the other superstar in charge of the theatrical part from Kate, incidentally the leader of the RSC for years, the Royal Shakespeare Company.
I.e. the best in the world.
It seamlessly depicts the legendary suite of “The Ninth Wave”, the second part of “Hounds of Love”.
And his story of shipwreck and rescue.
Today this piece of music is regarded at the same level of the best classical music, a piece that was thus defined by Brett Anderson of Suede in the recent, beautiful tribute that the BBC has reserved the divine Kate (minute 41’13 “onwards).
This first act of the show is so full of things and so devastating that you get at the end almost exhausted.
It’s almost eerie visually, in the style of the house, with threatening fish people, interspersed with rare moments of stillness.
Videos that show the reality, what is really happening, and the scene, the theater, as a place of dreams.
As explained in the beautiful production booklet that is sold like hot cakes before, during and after the show.
The final, on the contrary, strikes a note that’s almost hieratic.
Kate leaves the stage, ending the parable of the suite, supported by hand by fish people in a funeral ceremony, taken in the proscenium between two wings of the audience and finally, finally, glides away.
And then again out on the stage with the band for “The morning fog”, almost a resurrection ritual, with the tranquility and simplicity of the great music
Five-minute standing ovation from 3,000 people in awe.
On the curtain that heralds the second part of the show there is a feather, the symbol of the “KT fellowship,” the company of Kate, the only name put outside of the theatre along with the name of the show.
No need to put Kate’s name, because this, obviously, is NOT just a concert.
If Noble had to do a work of subtraction in the first part, given the amount of stimuli, in the second, of course, wisely, he does a work of adding.
The second act depicts the suite of “Aerial”, the work of the great return, very ethereal, almost peaceful and rural, the “Pastoral” by Kate after the “Fifth” of the first act.
And this second one finally delivers justice to another great masterpiece by Kate, with a visual version of absolute elegance.
Even more remarkable than in the first act the presence of Albert (Bertie), the very young and very talented son of Kate, who is at the root of the decision to return to the scene and definitely for this only reason will be idolized for years by me and all fans.
Elected by the mother chief consultant for the entire show, he sings and acts very naturally, already a professional ready for musicals.
Here he’s a painter, he paints a huge picture, a tableau vivant that changes all the time with the changing of the seasons, and interacts with a life-size wooden puppet.
This time the band remains clearly on stage, occupies the left side as in a Greenaway movie.
At one point comes even the unreleased track, “Tawny moon”, sung by Bertie himself.
A gorgeous mid-tempo, à la Gabriel, à la Sylvian.
À la Kate, if she would make up her mind and write a traditional musical.
The final “Aerial” grows, and grows up into a frenzy, like a summer storm.
I want to be up on the roof
I’ve gotta be up on the roof
Up, up high on the roof
Up, up on the roof
In the sun
The musicians, dressed in disturbing carnival masks vaguely echoing beloved Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” (Kubrick beloved by us, by almost everyone, but also by Kate, as she said several times).
An unbelievable final with Kate slowly turning into a bird, a blackbird.
She is “exposed” to the public, in a parallel with the “ceremony” of the first act.
Darkness on stage.
The stage is empty, only the instruments on stage and two trees that fell from the top to the two limits of the scene and one gets Kate’s grand piano on the left.
Kate, welcomed by a roar, goes to the piano.
And with inescapable simplicity traps everyone with a solo piano version of “Among Angels” : now we are all really in another dimension.
I never heard sing live at this level, especially with a simple piano.
Big finale with the entire band on proscenium and “Cloudbusting”.
Then a standing ovation and an applause that never ended, never.
Needless to say the show was welcomed by all critics enthusiastically as one of the landmarks in history and not only in music’s one.
And after this short stretch, Kate will return to his beloved countryside and tea, with modesty and understatement, still ignoring fashions and conventions (including those of the “greatest hits”), thanks to a genius, intelligence and a talent that won everyone tonight.
Maybe it was really a dream.