Kate Bush’s mind-blowing run of 22 live shows in 2014 was a joy to those who were there: this release documents what went down in luxurious detail. Before The Dawn stretches live recordings over 3 CDs and 4 vinyl records, carefully arranged to fully express the concepts of the show. Released by Fish People.
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First of all the box looks amazing. Four slabs of vinyl in a super sturdy outer box and wonderfully lavish booklet with photos, lyrics and words on the events from Kate Bush herself. What is lovely about the booklet is it’s personal nature - she has taken some of the photos herself and writes comments about them and about the performances.
Let’s be clear though - this is a live album. No overdubs or sorting out the sound after so it is not studio quality. Audience noise is left in as are KB's between song chat. The performances are quite ‘rock’ compared to the studio versions and have ‘stadium’ feel at times, the opening ‘Lily’ is full on rawwwwk with huge singalong choruses and massive guitars but that’s what you would expect from such a big performance. A more intimate sound wouldn’t have worked on such a big stage but would perhaps sound better on record. ‘Hounds of Love’ is pretty nicely done with Bush's voice in quite amazing form. There’s the odd piece of fx thrown on it which is perhaps extraneous and the guitars just stay on the right side of twiddly though I’m finding the musicianship a bit ‘muso’ for my tastes.
Now, shoot me please but I’m not that much of a fan of KB's later work so most of the track listing is not in my interests. We all know that she didn’t play a greatest hits set at these shows (‘Running Up That Hill’ (absolutely superb) and ‘Cloudbusting’ are here but that’s about it). Phil is happy that the second half of 'Hounds of Love' is well represented but this is a fans-only artefact which delves into her later work and stays there stoically. That said it’s very well put together and the sound is top notch. A more than decent aural representation of an event that possibly will never happen again.
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