Type: Audience master, recorded from seat in centre of row F, the 2nd row of the stalls, 2 - 3 metres from the stage.
Source: Factory-matched pair of Schoeps CCM 41V microphones (DINa mounted) ->
Marantz PMD661 recorder with Oade Concert Mod
(-18 dB gain/44.1 kHz/24 bit WAV)
Lineage: Audacity 2.0.5
* Amplified right channel of Act I by 0.8 dB.
* Applied variable envelope amplification across recording for consistent listening experience.
* Painstaking manual attenuation of audience noise, including more than a thousand individual hand claps.
* Added fades.
* Split tracks.
* Converted to 16 bit.
-> FLAC (compression level 8) [libFLAC 1.3.0 20130526]
Taper: Ian Macdonald (ianmacd)
Length : 165:20
01. [01:11] [announcement]
02. [04:54] Lily
03. [03:38] Hounds Of Love
04. [00:21] [banter]
05. [06:16] Joanni
06. [05:38] Top Of The City
07. [05:53] Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
08. [08:28] King Of The Mountain
The Ninth Wave:
09. [03:05] [video: The Astronomer's Tale]
10. [04:00] [video: And Dream Of Sheep]
11. [03:26] Under Ice
12. [07:24] Waking The Witch
13. [03:36] [sketch: Father And Son]
14. [06:47] Watching You Without Me
15. [05:22] Jig Of Life
16. [07:59] Hello Earth
17. [05:29] The Morning Fog
18. [01:16] [banter]
19. [00:14] [announcement]
A Sky Of Honey:
20. [02:48] Prelude
21. [10:28] Prologue
22. [05:27] An Architect's Dream
23. [01:32] The Painter's Link
24. [08:08] Sunset
25. [01:48] Aerial Tal
26. [07:00] Somewhere In Between
27. [06:10] Tawny Moon¹
28. [09:02] Nocturn
29. [10:55] Aerial
30. [01:40] [banter]
31. [00:58] [encore break]
32. [05:31] Among Angels
33. [00:41] [banter]
34. [07:58] Cloudbusting
¹ Sung by Albert McIntosh
Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) - London 1st October 2010 [ianmacd]
The day finally dawns: It's the closing night of Kate Bush's historic 22 date 'Before The Dawn' residency at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith.
I awake with a pounding headache, the severity of which makes me wonder whether my attendance of tonight's gig might be in jeopardy. Ugh. Best not to think about that. Some coffee and food are my immediate concern.
I leave my hotel and stroll up to Hammersmith Roundabout. In the distance, the stand-by queue for tickets outside the Apollo is already looking quite long.
And small wonder. It's now or never for anyone without a ticket. There's no coming back tomorrow and giving it another shot if it doesn't pan out today.
On top of that, of course, is the fact that closing night is a very appealing show to attend in its own right. There's always the remote chance that something unusual will happen, or that some minor change will creep into the set-list.
And even if nothing out of the ordinary happens, there remains the indisputable fact that the performance will be absolutely rock solid, honed as it has been to perfection by the 21 concerts that preceded it.
Let's also not forget that there's no guarantee that Kate Bush will ever give another live performance after tonight.
I avail myself of some food and much needed medicinal caffeine, then hop on a number 10 bus in the direction of the West End. It takes a bloody eternity to traverse London's congested streets, but I eventually arrive in the general area of my destination and get off at Marble Arch.
From there, I make my way down to Piccadilly Arcade to find Snap Galleries, where it just so happens that an exhibition is being hosted of Kate Bush photographs by Gered Mankowitz and Guido Harari.²
The exhibition features some stunning work. Mankowitz, in particular, has an impressive pedigree and can claim responsibility for, amongst many other famous shoots, the iconic 1978 images of Kate in a leotard, portraits that no British male music fan of a certain age can fail to recognise (or appreciate).
Downstairs in the gallery, the work of the Italian photographer Harari adorns the walls. Harari worked with Kate Bush from 'Hounds Of Love' until 'The Red Shoes' and much (if not all) of his work on display is from those sessions.
I'm sorely tempted to purchase one or two of the prints on offer here, but even after the considerable exhibition discount of 40%, they're still more than £1000 a pop, making them not exactly impulse purchases.
Without serious spousal consultation (or reckless disregard for the future of my marriage), I dare go no further at this stage than pre-ordering a copy of Mankowitz's 'WOW! Kate Bush' book³, currently being offered for the special pre-launch price of ?175. That's not exactly loose change either, but it's a fraction of what the prints would set me back and it's eminently preferable to the post-publication price of ?295.
I'd actually come to the gallery with the intention of doing nothing but looking around, but damn, the mock-up of the book does look nice and those photos of a still teenage Kate are breathtaking in this size and quality.
I take the Tube back to Hammersmith from Green Park and return to my hotel. I charge batteries, pack my equipment and then head to The Swan for another early dinner.
I end up talking to some other Kate Bush fans in the pub, but leave after my food to get to the venue just after five o'clock.
The stand-by queue is now the longest I've seen it on the four occasions I've been here. The further back in the queue you look, the more doleful and desperate the face of the punter standing there. The poor bastards. I do feel for them.
Today, as always, I'm here an hour before doors, because I'm leaving nothing to chance. If there are unanticipated issues awaiting me inside, I want the maximum amount of time to negotiate and solve them. After three successful recordings, I can't imagine what kind of problem might yet crop up, but then it wouldn't be an unanticipated issue, would it?
I'm in row F of the stalls tonight, centre stage. With rows A to D having been removed to accommodate the larger stage, that means I'm in the second row.
I went down to the second row last night to find exactly where I'd be sitting this evening. I'd been toying with the idea of trying to swap my ticket at the front of the stalls with someone in possession of the front row of the circle, because that would yield a better recording. However, upon discovering just how close to the stage I would be sitting this evening, I couldn't quite bring myself to pass up the opportunity to experience the show from so close.
If I stood up and leaned forward, I'd be able to touch Kate's toes when she approaches the edge of the stage. Not that I'm inclined to do such a reckless thing, you understand, but given the highly theatrical nature of the show, a seat at the front of the stalls is a real treasure, even if it doesn't provide the best listening experience (or, therefore, recording).
And let's not forget that this could so easily turn out to be the last live concert performance that Kate Bush ever gives. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but, well, it could be. My ticket for this evening therefore places me as close as I'm ever likely to get to Kate Bush.
My pre-gig preparation is routine now: drink a pint of London's most expensive lemonade, pee off whatever's in the bladder, configure the microphones according to tonight's position in the auditorium, and take my seat.
The show starts and, my God, I'm _so_ close to that stage. There is no better view in the house of Kate Bush than the one I have tonight.
The sound, though, is predictably unbalanced. The PA is directly overhead, blasting the music deep into the auditorium, but it's virtually useless where I'm sitting. My vantage point relies on the stage monitors and, in the case of Omar Hakim's drums, the sound coming directly from the instrument itself.
Those drums feature very prominently during the first six songs, because the band are situated close to the front of the stage. You'll hear how crisp and clear the drumming sounds. In particular, 'Running Up That Hill' positively thunders along.
During the video interlude of 'The Astronomer's Tale' and under cover of a full length curtain, the band's rostrum is moved to the back of the stage and the drums consequently adopt a lower profile for the rest of the concert.
During Mino Cinélu's intro to 'King Of The Mountain', Kate stands with her back to the audience, watching him tap away at the skins. This time, however, she gets fed up waiting for him to move on to the next stage of the song. She turns to face the audience and begins to sing. He grins and shoots Omar Hakim a knowing look.
Being this close to the action offers a few other unique experiences, which you'll consequently also find documented in the recording. You'll hear, for example, the thud of the fish-people (and the gasps of the nearest audience members), when they jump from the stage to start wafting the silk waves at the start of 'The Ninth Wave'.
'Jig Of Life' also has a particular clarity to it this evening. The Irish bouzouki really shines through.
During 'Hello Earth', as Bush sings "I tell my mother; I tell my father", she closes her eyes and clutches the microphone to her chest. It's hard not to imagine that she's recalling a vivid memory of her beloved parents at this moment. I'm moved, even if I've imagined the whole thing.
During the 'Prologue' (and other parts) of 'A Sky Of Honey', you can even hear the footsteps of the puppeteer as he walks around the stage.
Another blistering rendition of 'Aerial' rounds out the main set. The studio version will never suffice after this.
We're down to the encores now. Will she do something different for the final show?
The audience have been getting successively rowdier at the start of 'Among Angels' with each concert I have attended. Tonight, the yelling continues well into the start to the song and I find myself not only annoyed, but embarrassed for the people who just don't know how to behave.
Bush sounds so confident during this song. It's just her and her piano, stripped back to the essence of her talent, to the form in which it all started, so many years ago now.
It would be easy to get caught up in the mass hysteria surrounding these concerts. Bush is one of the sacred cows of modern music, like Prince. To criticise the work of such artists is to invite ridicule, no matter how well-reasoned the arguments.
But whilst some others might be insincere or lazy in joining the overwhelming consensus of Bush as a creative genius, that rare breed of true original that has known no peer either before or since she burst onto the scene in 1978, I can put my hand on my heart and say without emotion that I believe her to be all of this and more.
Kate Bush has become the de facto comparison for all female singer-songwriters of our time. Everyone is compared to Bush, because Bush's talent is the purest, most distilled form of the art. She is a visionary songwriter and performer (in all senses of the word), and all others pale in comparison.
The audience are in rapture as Bush addresses them:
"Right, let's ask everyone back onto the stage. We'll do our last song tonight... and for a while!"
What follows is a rendition of 'Cloudbusting' that raises the roof of the Apollo (forever to be regarded as the Odeon by gig-goers of a certain age).
During the song, Kate and the band are joined on stage by the entire technical crew of this extraordinary production, and they, together with several thousand members of the audience, sing the song to its spine-tingling climax.
After a protracted goodbye, Bush finally leaves the stage, her arm around her son, his around her. I can be a cynical bastard at times, but I'm touched by this and all that I have witnessed tonight; and, indeed, on the previous three occasions that I have been privileged enough to be in the audience for this remarkable, groundbreaking show.
And now, the debate starts in earnest regarding the intention behind the expression "for a while". Perhaps uttered on the spur of the moment, perhaps deliberately vague, no-one can be sure what exactly she meant. Taken at its most literal, it indicates a return at some point in the future, even if the wait might be a long one. But if there's one thing we Kate Bush fans have learned well, it's patience.
Apollo staff are slowly trying to clear the upstairs area of the venue. Guests with special passes are milling around everywhere and it's clear that an afterparty is going to take place.
I leave the volcanic heat of the venue and notice a few people hanging around by the stage gate. Without really thinking, I decide to join them. Why, I don't really know. I've been sitting just metres away from Kate Bush all evening, so I don't need to catch another glimpse of her for a few seconds. Nor do I have anything for her to sign.
I suppose I'm just trying to defer the end of this grandiose and slightly unreal experience. It really could be the last time any of us attends a Kate Bush concert.
So, I hang around, read the messages on my phone, and then get talking to a chap who turns out to have paid a whopping ?800 to someone on Viagogo for his ticket to this evening's show; and it's his fifth 'Before The Dawn' concert, no less.
We pass the time talking about the show and Kate Bush in general until he reveals in passing that he is the owner of the record label that released most of Hugh Cornwell's recent albums.
What are the chances? I'm a big fan of Hugh and the Hugh-era Stranglers. The conversation immediate goes off at a tangent.
Nearby, in the Apollo's driveway, there's a driver waiting in his car for someone to come out. I approach him and ask who he's waiting for.
He's reluctant to tell me at first, but then reveals that he's the driver of David Rhodes and Kate's tour manager, Dave Taraskevics, who also happens to be Peter Gabriel's tour manager. The two apparently live near to one another, some 100 miles from here.
Rhodes eventually appears, followed soon afterwards by Taraskevics. They get into the car and are driven away. No-one waiting outside even approaches Rhodes before he gets into the car. They're all here for one person only.
Other members of the crew trickle out into the street at irregular intervals. Each of them is carrying a framed print of a grey feather, the same one that appears on the merchandise and the curtain during the intermission. A small panel dedicates the print to each individual crew member by name.
What a lovely touch, to reward the entire team that worked on 'Before The Dawn' with a personalised memento like this. The cynic in me still wonders how long it will be before the first such print makes it onto eBay, though.
It's evident that Kate Bush's car is parked on the wrong side of the security gate, i.e. the side that we're not on. The probability that she'll be driven straight out of here without stopping is high, and getting greater the later it gets.
I want to cut my losses and go back to the hotel, but as with any bad investment, I'm afraid that if I withdraw, the tide will turn, and Kate will emerge with free merchandise and kisses for all of those who patiently waited outside for her.
The security guy eventually tips us the wink that Kate is about to leave. The gate swings open and a car with tinted windows drives out and away, into the Hammersmith night. We don't even catch a glimpse of her. She could be frantically waving to us or passed out on the back seat, her head in Bertie's lap.
It's 02:30. What a waste of 3½ hours that was, but I really don't mind.
After four fantastically memorable performances of 'Before The Dawn', I can't feel anything but joy, and the inevitable pinch of bittersweet wistfulness that it's now all over.
I do, however, feel some pity for the woman who came down from the north of England, stood in the stand-by queue for most of the day and sadly still didn't get a ticket for this (or any other) performance.
Hoping to salvage something from the experience, she then hung around outside the venue until after the show and then remained here by the gate for a further 3½ hours, hoping to get Kate to autograph the sleeve of the vinyl album she had brought with her. Ouch.
These concerts go down in musical history as the incredibly ambitious, brilliantly conceived and expertly executed live comeback of one of the greatest, most respected and revered artists of our time. It might be some time before the true significance of these performances is appreciated.
Kate Bush, welcome back.
Mastering these four recordings has been a labour of love. I have enjoyed it, but perhaps not as much as I'm going to enjoy not having to master them any more. Indeed, my feelings about the mastering experience are perhaps best summed up in the words of the immortal Engelbert Humperdinck, when he sang, "Please release me, let me go."
Tonight's performance was another stunner and is captured here for your eternal listening pleasure. As far as I can tell, there were no hitches of any kind during during the performance.
The recording is very good, certainly faithful to the sound in the second row of the stalls, but necessarily suffers somewhat from having been made that far forward in the auditorium. The upside of that, however, is that the recording also features the least audience noise of the four that I have made.
And, whilst not the best of my four 'Before The Dawn' recordings, it does contain some unique performance detail and, in any case, documents a historic show that -- I'll say it yet again -- could, if we're very unlucky, prove to be Bush's last.
2,546 edits were required to bring the show to you in this form. I hope you enjoy it.
Since the recording is bound to end up on fan sites and music blogs, no doubt sometimes repackaged as MP3s, I would like to make the following polite request. If you must re-encode and repackage this work, do please at least include these notes (the info.txt file) in the archive and do not alter them in any way. Thank you.