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Before the Dawn (Live)

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Album Review

If Kate Bush had stumbled onto the stage at London's Apollo Hammersmith theater on August 26, 2014, sang "Knees Up, Mother Brown" for 15 minutes, and then wandered off, most folks in attendance would have still felt they'd witnessed something remarkable. After all, it was the first time the gifted and reclusive artist had performed on-stage since 1979, and the fact she was greeting her audience at all seemed just short of impossible. Given the craft and ambition of Bush's body of recorded work, it came as no surprise that she had something quite grand in mind for her audience when she made her unexpected return to public performance with a run of 22 shows that stretched from August to October 2014. Bush's elaborate show included costume changes, actors, dancers, puppets, magicians, film projections, and a loose narrative that turned the concert into a three-act stage production. Before the Dawn is a live album recorded during two nights of Bush's show ("Before the Dawn" was also the name she gave the event), and in many respects it plays more like the original cast album of some eccentric West End spectacular than a typical concert souvenir. While Act One (the first disc of the three-CD edition) is song-oriented and features a couple of Bush's bigger hits ("Running Up That Hill" and "Hounds of Love"), Acts Two and Three are devoted to a pair of extended suites. "The Ninth Wave" is drawn from the second half of 1985's Hounds of Love album, and "A Sky of Honey" features material from 2005's Aerial and 2001's 50 Words for Snow. While the music in Acts Two and Three is often strikingly beautiful and the performances are superb, they also seem to be one part of a larger stage performance. You can't help but wish you could see what was happening as well as hearing it, especially the long passages where instrumental work and other vocalists dominate the soundscape. But even with just the audio, Before the Dawn is something quite remarkable. Bush's vocals are splendid, and if she has a bit less control on-stage than in the studio, there's a frisson that more than compensates, and this is a striking expression of her own glorious and playfully mad vision of the collision of humanity and nature. Her accompanists match the rigor and precision of Bush's carefully crafted studio creations (especially the percussion of Omar Hakim and Mino Cinelu, the guitar work of David Rhodes, and Bush's own piano), and while the clarity and spaciousness of the mix make it hard to believe this is a fully live recording, the liner notes insist it is. Kate Bush is too much of a visionary to come back to the stage with any old show, and Before the Dawn is an album just as special as she is, a remarkable and expansive creative statement full of wonder and magic that rivals the best of her LPs. [Before the Dawn was also released on LP.]

Customer Reviews

Can't wait for this...

The live show was amazing - both the band and her vocals, so this will be something special. Thrilled she's releasing it.

Best Music News this year!

Kate's "Before the Dawn" show was mesmerizing and breathtaking from start to finish. Her voice and musicians were spectacular. Have been waiting for this album since the moment I left the theater after the concert! I'm beyond excited for this release!

This album magically transported me back to her 2014 London concert!

I flew 5,350 miles to see Kate Bush's "Before the Dawn" concert at the London Hammersmith Apollo on August 29, 2014. This live 3-CD album transported me back in time to that magical night. Each track is absolute perfection!

It was absolute genius for Kate Bush to remove much of the audience applause off the album so that each song can be heard in its most pure form. You can clearly hear Kate's voice, the accompanying background vocals, and every instrument played. Unlike many live albums, the quality of the sound on "Before the Dawn" is incredible!

From the opening bells of "Joanni" to the astronaut dialogue at the end of "Hello Earth" to Bertie's final "Goodnight Mum" in "Somewhere in Between"--every audio detail has been boosted so that you can hear it above all the applause. This effect makes each track sound like a re-recording. It's reminiscent of Kate's "Director's Cut" album. It's a brilliant idea because Kate Bush gives the songs a freshness and new vocal depth.

The bonus track on this album is "Never Be Mine" because she only sang this song during her rehearsal, so it's great to hear her 2014 interpretation of the song. While most of the songs on this album aren't considered her greatest hits (Wuthering Heights and Babooshka were not on the setlist), "Before the Dawn" captures the essence of he live performance.

The songs that most fans will recognize on "Before the Dawn" are: Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God), Hounds of Love, and Cloudbusting. In fact, she performs most of the songs on her "Hounds of Love" and "Aerial" albums. So, if you are looking for a greatest hits collection, then perhaps you're better off listening to her "Whole Story" studio album.

"Before the Dawn" is arranged in three acts. Act One is a greatest hits collection of 7 songs including Hounds of Love, Running Up That Hill, and King of the Mountain. Act Two is comprised of 7 songs from her entire "Ninth Wave" suite (side 2 of her "Hounds of Love" album) with added theatrical dialogue. Act Three is made up of her "Sky of Honey" suite (side 2 of her "Aerial" album) and two of her classic songs, "Among Angels" and "Cloudbusting." Act Three also includes a bonus track sung by her son, Albert McIntosh called "Tawny Moon."

Once you begin playing this live album, you will want to hear its entirety. Then, after you're finished, you'll feel compelled to play it again. And again. And again. And each time, you will discover something new.

That's the true magic of "Before the Dawn."

Biography

Born: July 30, 1958 in Bexleyheath, Kent, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most successful and popular solo female performers to come out of England during the last several decades of the 20th century, Kate Bush was also one of the most unusual, with her keening vocals and unusually literate and complex body of songs. As a girl, Catherine Bush studied piano and violin while attending the St. Joseph's Convent Grammar School in Abbey Wood in South London. She also amused herself playing an organ in the barn behind her parents' house. By the time she was a teenager,...
Full Bio
Before the Dawn (Live), Kate Bush
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  • $19.99
  • Genres: Alternative, Music, Rock
  • Released: Dec 02, 2016

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