The other thing I never left from my person were the three Kate Bush tickets. THANK JEEZUZ! I can't imagine the upset if I had packed those tickets!!! OK. Kate Bush. I have purposefully not said too much on Facebook or Twitter. Up til now. (Spoiler alert to anyone who is going and doesn't want details.)
I don't think of myself as being fanatical about anything or anyone really. But I think I might be a fanatic about Kate Bush now. I've always really liked her music, her ingenuity and her integrity. I mean I did buy a ticket to see her in London. But this was hands down the best show I have ever seen in my life. It was the best sounding concert I have ever heard in my life. And I've been to a lot of concerts. It exceeded ALL expectations - and my expectations were very high. I expected multi-media. I expected a great band. I expected to hear great music. I expected great attention to detail. I expected to be wowed by Kate. I did not expect the length to which Kate went, or how much I'd be wowed.
Hilde and Carol (from Chagford) accompanied me to the concert. We walked into the theatre- which had recently been refurbished and is lovely. We were excited to see that our seats were excellent (the venue does not offer a bad seat in the house). The large stage was set up as a standard concert filled to the brim with instruments (including a huge and interesting array of percussion instruments in addition to a full kit. Of course. Kate loves percussion). The band started. The lights went down, the crowd rose to their feet and erupted as Kate walked out waving, with 5 others in a row and began singing Lily." I thought, OK, it's a concert. That's cool. Unexpected, but I was happy. An arched scaffolding that crossed behind the band lit a beautiful lighting display. The band played about 6 songs. They sounded incredible. Her voice was clear and strong- better than I expected after a week plus of shows. No fatigue. After "Running Up That Hill," and then "King of the Mountain" a screen came down and the great percussionist, Omar Hakim came out and whirled above his head a whooser. Smoke billowed and thousands of tiny little pieces of paper were blown all over the audience. They appeared to be hand pressed yellow paper I later found out was a poem from Tennyson calligraphied on each one. Kate is an avid lover of literature (obvious if you know her lyrics). That is the kind of detail that encapsulates the rest of the evening. A large screen came dow and a video of author David Mitchell acted out an impassioned plea for help to the coast guard as a sailor who heard a distress signal from a downed ship. The screen went up and the stage was now the innards of a giant boat. It was obvious at that point we had left normal concert land. Gone was the scaffolding and the band was pushed up stage right. Then a video of Kate floating in the water wearing a life vest with a little red blinking light singing the first song from The Ninth Wave. Thus began the entire 2nd side of the Hounds of Love record, in order, acted out with various sets, each elaborate and gorgeous- with costumed dancers /singers and sophisticated lighting techniques that showed the nightmares and hallucinations of the stranded boat victim. The images were riveting, each one taking my breath away. Images such as: an ocean -complete with realistic looking foam made by fabrics manipulated by the dancers underneath and lighting which created the most authentic ocean I've seen using similar techniques; that frame of the ship; the Dali-esque room of her dwelling with her family (her real son playing her Ninth Wave son) where she visited them as a ghost; the underworld (complete with fish skeleton creatures.) Outside of her dreamscape, the rescuers tried to dig her out of the ice floor with a chain saw. They tried to find her with a friggin helicopter on a dolly from the ceiling that went up and down and whirled throughout the theater; they looked for her from a large floating buoy. She was finally taken by the fish creatures in a funeral procession through the audience. The use of technology, lighting, music, theater was masterful. Then she returned to the stage with the band in a line and sang the last song on the album, the lovely and grateful "Morning Fog" while she "thanked" her mother, brothers, son and everyone on stage. Then she welcomed us back after a 20 minute intermission. I couldn't believe there would be more!
The next "act" began with Kate at the piano. And then the full "Sky Of Honey" suite from her gorgeous, "Aerial" release, complete with scenic accompaniment of a 40 foot door; a huge gold- framed painting that was ever changing through elaborate video editing; gorgeous images of slow motion birds in flight. Feathers floated down from the ceiling; a giant birch tree penetrated the grand piano. A fantastically elaborate black winged Kate fought a guitarist in a bird head; and she literally flew (although I think they blew the lighting cue). It was just gorgeous.
There were flaws in this act- but not many. The extra singers/dancers in these scenes as park visitors got in the way for me. Her son, Bertie had a solo. He is clearly young- I think only 16 (a magnificent primer for him with his mother as mentor.) And I thought the puppet and man attached to him roaming around the musicians was a bit distracting. I interpreted the puppet as a young boy- representing her son and perhaps his roaming around her music represented both literally and figuratively their relationship to music and her relationship to music in his life. There were so many layers of intentional symbolic meaning throughout the show. It was clear that every choice was deliberate, and all executed to perfection. There was even an encore -of a gentle piano solo from her latest record, and the band playing "Cloudbursting". The whole show from start to finish clocked at 3 hours. I was full and felt exhilarated afterwards. My ears were not ringing. It truly was an incredible sound. I thought often through this show when she wore the head mic (that she had made for her first tour in 1979) why Broadway can't get their head mics right? Clearly the technology is there, but the vocals in Broadway musicals sound tinny and horrible. This show had the perfect volume, the perfect mix. My ears were not ringing after leaving the theatre.
Continuing from the Kate show and moving backwards...directly before I went to see an osteopath on the other side of London, which took half a day. (It is very time-consuming to travel in London. AND VERY EXPENSIVE. And extremely crowded.) I really messed up my back with a fall in March and after the long flight coming over to Europe and carrying my guitar around, I was in a good amount of pain. The osteopath was very informative. It's little looser now. The day I landed in London -later than scheduled and without my bag that had mouthwash spilled in it- I had begun to think that my Irish craic had run out (that's luck), but even before we landed, there was a young Irish girl about 4 years old who screamed: "Muuummmmyy...WOW...Look!...there are stars on the ground!"