Last night Kate Bush began her run of 22 performances of Before The Dawn at the Eventim Apollo venue in Hammersmith.
The high ceilings of this old cinema (which has been recently refurbished in an Art Deco style) leant itself perfectly to a show that had spectacular visuals in the form of set, lighting and projection to match the epic, lyrical quality of her songs but it also created more of an intimate ambience than some of the bigger venues (like the O2) would have allowed for a performer that wanted to connect with her audience.
Friends of mine have been superfans since their teens. I came to love her songs in my late 20’s but one of the things that I’ve always loved about her as an artist is her ability to draw on so many influences – from literature, poetry and the art world to historical figures like Joan of Arc through to everyday items like a washing machine – and to use those influences (plus different genres of music) in her song-writing to great effect.
Without wanting to detract from the hard work involved in the song-writing process, she appears to be an artist so connected with her creative muse that creativity seems to pour out of her. She’s followed her own path, produced her own unique work and doesn’t feel the need to self-publicise in any way. In fact, shunning the limelight or any form of celebrity has only added to her appeal in many people’s eyes. The mystery surrounding her private life has allowed her body of work to speak for itself and lent it even more potency.
There was something she wrote in the programme notes which caught my eye and reminded me yet again of the power of synchronicity.
“One thing I hadn’t accounted for was that “it”, the project itself, had a very strong opinion about how “it” wanted to be…I was soon to discover this”.
She then goes on to describe just a few of the coincidences which led to the show being what it is; from the dates they wanted to perform matching exactly the availability of the venue after its refurbishment, to attracting, one by one, through bizarre coincidences and chance meetings, the various members who would make up the the collaborative team.
“These coincidences have continued long and hard throughout the preparations for this show and I soon began to just take them as a sign that it was the right decision every time they appeared”.
She began by taking a risk, a risk she didn’t need to make since she’s already a successful, wealthy songwriter with a legion of loyal fans. But she took a risk and made a commitment to a project that would undertake a lot of work and see her back on stage, in the limelight, after an absence of 35 years. She admits to being daunted by the prospect, terrified at times, but she continued the journey and began to trust that the project, which felt like it was taking on a life of its own, was going in the “right” direction.
We all have doubts about our abilities, about whether an artistic project will be any good or whether we’ll be humiliated in public. But if we begin, take a first step and then trust that things will happen as they’re supposed to then the creative universe seems to find ways of helping our endeavours. The outcome may be nothing from what we’d first imagined. We may have visualised a very different outcome from the one that has materialised through the journey but that’s the the story, the picture, the song, that wanted to emerge.
Sometimes I feel that to start an artistic project is to begin a collaboration with a greater creative force than us and that we must do what we can to allow this force to speak through us. Authors describe their characters speaking “through” them; Peter Brook used the term “empty vessel” to describe the actor, waiting to be filled by a character.
Yet again, the wonderful Kate Bush has inspired me – to go on my own journey, to be surprised with where a project takes me. To take an artistic risk. To just begin.