I went to The Fermentation Cellar in Toronto's Distillery District tonight for the Canadian premiere of Kate Bush's new double album, Aerial, which will be released by EMI Music Canada on Nov. 8.
I was greeted at the door with an Aerial martini, comprised of pomegranate juice and citrus vodka. I made myself a couple of roast beef sandwiches, watched some old Bush videos, talked to a few people, grabbed some cranberry juice and sat down to watch the video for King of the Mountain, the album's first single, and hear seven other tracks.
Bush has sold 1.2 million copies of her previous seven albums in Canada, but this is her first release in 12 years. Some people in attendance had hoped that she'd be at the party, but, with her reluctance to travel and tour, I correctly assumed that she wouldn't be. I still get chills when I hear her debut single, Wuthering Heights, which she wrote and recorded when she was just 17. I also liked Hammer Horror, Coffee Homeground and Babooshka from her next two albums, and I thought that she was the hottest looking woman in music in the '80s. She released three more albums in the '80s and The Red Shoes in 1993 and, while they were all successful, they didn't leave much of an impression on me.
The eight songs that we heard were easily recognizable as Bush, with her distinctive voice and very rich sound. She wrote and produced the entire album, and it's as carefully crafted as you'd expect. There are also some orchestral arrangements by composer Michael Kamen, and Aerial was the last album he worked on before he died two years ago. One song had a very strong jazz element before it turned to samba and flamenco flourishes.
Still photos and graphics accompanied the songs on a large screen, and there was a lot of bird imagery in them. In keeping with that theme, I suppose, two dancers suspended from cords hanging from the rafters descended and did some choreographed swinging around near the end of the set.
If you're a Bush fan who's suffered through her dozen-year absence, you should be pleased with Aerial.
np Mike Scott - Still Burning