Kate Bush played her first show in 35 years last night (26 August), stunning crowds with what is being described as a theatrical, visually intense performance at The Hammersmith Apollo.
Selling out 77,000 tickets in 15 minutes, it was little surprise that there was a lot of critical expectation on the opening night, with many reviewers filling the audience alongside a host of celebrities and fans including Lily Allen, Madonna, Gemma Arterton, Anna Calvi and others.
Almost every critic has come out in praise of the performance, which saw Bush play both a full rendition of ‘the ninth wave’ series from her 1981 album Hounds of Love, and the second half of 2005’s Aerial LP alongside hits including 'Lily' and 'Running Up That Hill'.
Bernadette McNulty from The Telegraph stated: "Anyone hoping for a greatest hits set including the likes of Wuthering Heights would have been disapponted: Bush as ever was not going to follow in any rock comeback tradition. And with so much back catalogue that has never been played, this was always going to be a snapshot. Her adoring fans were in ecstasy, sometimes to the point that where their frenzied dancing in the old Bush style called for a security guard to restrain them in keeping with the rather formal atmosphere of the night.”
Andy Gill of The Independent also praised the show’s visually demanding production: "Accompanied by music ranging from polyphonic choral harmonies to folksy minstrels, it’s quite stunning, undoubtedly the most ambitious, and genuinely moving, piece of theatrical pop ever seen on a British stage. Which is just what everyone here tonight was hoping for.”
Richard Smirke from Billboard commented on Bush herself, stating "Onstage, Bush appeared to be enjoying herself hugely, displaying none of the nerves or apprehension you would expect of someone who hadn’t performed live in over three decades.”
Finally, Alex Petridis of The Guardian gave the show a five-star review, seemingly stunned by the show’s production values: "Clearly, given how tightly she has controlled her own career since the early 80s, she (Bush) would only have bothered because she felt she had something spectacular to offer. She was right: Before The Dawn is another remarkable achievement.”
Actor Gemma Arterton and singer Anna Calvi also appeared on BBC’s Newsnight immediately after the show to offer their opinions on the opening night of the mammoth run of dates.
Watch Calvi and Arterton on Newsnight below:
Kate Bush still has 21 dates left at The Hammersmith Apollo before the show comes to a climax on 1 October.
The full list of remaining nights can be found below, and for more information and tickets visit here.
Full remaining dates are as follows:
Wednesday, 27th August
Friday, 29th August
Saturday, 30th August
Tuesday, 2nd September
Wednesday, 3rd September
Friday, 5th September
Saturday, 6th September
Tuesday, 9th September
Wednesday, 10th September
Friday, 12th September
Saturday, 13th September
Tuesday, 16th September
Wednesday, 17th September
Friday, 19th September
Below: 15 contemporary artists we wouldn't have without Kate Bush