Kate Bush – Before the dawn (2016)

Looks like Hell down there

The first thing I think of is the great sound quality and the full and rich soundscape of this live recording. This is taken from Kate’s second ever tour, the “Before the dawn” show. 22 shows were performed at Hammersmith Odeon in London in the autumn of 2014. This was Kate’s second tour and the first one was in 1979! This lady is surely not giving us fans many opportunities to see her live. I regret I did not fly to London as it was the only stop of the 2014 “World” tour. Of course, I didn’t know about the shows when the tickets went up for sale, but I can feel regret anyway, can’t I?

The second thing I think of is how wonderful Kate’s voice has become with age. Just like Bowie’s their voices matured with such grace, from the higher tone to deeper and more… sensual?

The third thing I think of is that Kate doesn’t seem to be at ease with speaking to the audience. She does incorporate spoken words as part of the show, but in between songs there is not much banter at all, except for many heartfelt thanks from her. At least if I would judge from the record. How it was in reality I am not privileged to know.

The fourth thing I think of is that the guitar sound is nicer on this recording than usually on her studio albums. Here I must say that the guitar players of her supporting bands for the studio recordings are not my favourites. Of course, the guitar is not as important for Kate’s music as it is for bands like Pink Floyd, Marillion or demigod Neil Young. Here, before the dawn, the guitars are thicker and rounder, they are really nice sounding. It’s no secret that Kate is a piano girl, she loves the piano, and I love her playing it.

On this live show Kate has mostly a new band. Omar Hakim (played with Bowie and others) play the drums, Jon Carin (Pink Floyd) the keyboards, David Rhodes (Peter Gabriel) and Icelandic Frissi Karlsson play the guitars and John Giblin (Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds) on the bass. Actually, everyone in the band is great. I really like the drums and all the ambiance soundscapes from synthesizers.

The fifth thing I think of is that this is the third album from Kate that mixes pop songs with complete conceptual musical suites. The first is the 1985 album “Hounds of love”, a single LP album consisting of one side of songs and one side of “The Ninth Wave” suite. The second is the 2005 double album “Aerial” where we get one LP of pop songs and to that a full LP of the “A Sky of Honey” suite. Now we have the four-LP box covering the live-show. There are three sides of pop songs and five sides of the suites. The show was transformed into a mix of music and storytelling, reminding me of the feeling from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.

“Lily” kicks off the album and it is a great opening track. “Running up that hill” is nice but maybe it is one of those songs that are best in the studio version? “King of the mountain” is majestic and “Nocturn”, the best song of “A sky of honey” is surprisingly almost as good as the original version. All in all the two suites are the high-light and they make the album stellar.

Great band and great sound! Well done. It is a great performance and such a great set list. A must have for all Kate Bush fans. The three stars of the night; Kate and her voice, Omar Hakim’s drums and Jon Carin’s keyboards.

My rating: 8/10

Side A:

  1. Lily
  2. Hounds of love
  3. Joanni
  4. Top of the city

Side B:

  1. Never be mine
  2. Running up that hill
  3. King of the mountain

Side C:

  1. Astronomer’s call
  2. And dream of sheep
  3. Under ice
  4. Waking the witch
  5. Watching them without her
  6. Watching you without me

Side D:

  1. Little light
  2. Jig of light
  3. Hello Earth
  4. The morning fog

Side E:

  1. Prelude
  2. Prologue
  3. An architect’s dream
  4. The painter’s link

Side F:

  1. Sunset
  2. Aerial Tal
  3. Somewhere in between
  4. Tawny moon

Side G:

  1. Nocturn
  2. Aerial

Side H:

  1. Among angels
  2. Cloudbusting

Best live versions/songs: “Lily”, “King of the mountain”, “Nocturn”, “Jig of life” and of course “Hello Earth”.

Produced by: Kate Bush

Media: 180 gram 4 x vinyl, box set, released 2016

Released: November 25, 2016

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