Kate Bush's return to the stage wowed the London critics, who have called her first live performance for 35 years "spellbinding", "stunning" and "incomparable".

Reviewers hailed the 56-year-old's show at the Hammersmith Apollo for the first day of a 22-day comeback stint at the venue, entitled Before The Dawn.

Andy Gill, for the Independent, gave Bush a five-star review, saying: "It's quite stunning, undoubtedly the most ambitious, and genuinely moving, piece of theatrical pop ever seen on a British stage."

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Alexis Petridis, writing for the Guardian, said the singer delivered a "spectacular" show.

"Bush theoretically had a lot to lose by returning to the stage," he wrote.

"Clearly, given how tightly she has controlled her own career since the early 80s, she would only have bothered because she felt she had something spectacular to offer. She was right: Before The Dawn is another remarkable achievement."

Jan Moir, writing in the Daily Mail, said each song was greeted with a standing ovation.

"Certainly, her voice still sounds terrific," she said.

"Her music is still audacious and weird, but sometimes it is spellbindingly beautiful, too. Hers is a large scale spectacle, vividly realised and unlike anything else in town."

The Sun's Simon Cosyns was effusive.

"Theatrical, sensual, emphatic, she made Running Up That Hill feel like running, Cloudbusting sound like rain, while Hounds of Love summoned the racket of dogs howling.

"This was a triumphant return by one of our greatest, most original and influential music stars."

And James Cabooter, in the Daily Star, said: "An incomparable performance from a genuine one-off, Kate is in a pop bubble of her own paying no attention to contemporary trends - and the music is better for it.

"Before The Dawn is an unqualified success. It's wonderful to have Kate back."

But in the Telegraph, Bernadette McNulty was less giving with her stars, awarding just four, and saying: "The pace was resolutely mid-tempo,the narratives sometimes obscure and the skits often hammy - in one artists ' scene from the Aerial segment, literally as exciting as watching paint dry.

"But nonetheless there was something thrilling about seeing the often bonkers but still delightful imagination of Bush run free after all this time."

Actress Gemma Arterton was in the crowd and told BBC's Newsnight it was not what she had expected at first.

The Bond girl said: "The expectation from the audience was immense and there was just so much love coming from them and so much excitement. She launched into a typical rock gig which was not what we were expecting.

"Everything about it was so high, the quality of everything was so high and well though out. It was amazing."