Before the Dawn: Cathy meets St Joan in a Sky of Honey

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Andy Gill, music critic of The Independent on Kate Bush’s live recording of Before the Dawn:

“It’s a beautiful juxtaposition of dark and light which leaves one alternately scared and soothed by the knowledge that whatever comes to pass, it will pass by again, and soon.”

Suffice to say Before the Dawn on record does not disappointment: it’s a rare moment of life affirmation on many levels.

For the record, it’s as visceral and beautiful as the live event, and proves that the theatre dressing was just that: the music was all.

That’s especially the case with the Sky of Honey suite from Aerial, which has such fire here that it edges The Ninth Wave from pole position. The original elements of birdsong, sun and moon that cradle the concept are amplified, embellishing Molly Bloom’s sensual world, building to conclusion with the warrior-like energy of a Saint Joan from the opening set.

In the midst, the song given to Kate’s son, ‘Tawny Moon’, might seem a flashback to her teenage self. There are hints there in the vocal, beneath the assured delivery that owes more to musical theatre, of a legacy in the intonation. And there’s something poignant in the lustful bravado of the song’s character, wooing the lunar goddess, the muse, as if she’s some shy young actress on an Edwardian stage (a scenario that sounds sent ghost-like from Cathy’s Lionheart years) in the hands of someone so young, with the great weight of his own creativity to shape and form in the shadow of a similar titan.

Despite the desire for lost domains, to live or relive on film, the recording is more valuable: it’s a portal to our own sense memory.

The Ninth Wave might have benefited from visuals: the written dialogue, both sketch and pilot, are lame or awkward, and yet, when Kate makes exceptions like this they only prove the rule, like letting Elton John batter the subtlety out of ‘Snowed in at Wheeler Street’ on 50 Words. It’s humanity.