Kate Bush Returns to Stage 35 Years after Last Performance
Hundreds of Kate Bush fans gathered outside Hammersmith Apollo for her opening show, this was simply the final moments of what has been a 35-year wait.
Returning to the same venue where she played the final show of her only other proper tour, in 1979, aged just 20, Bush, now 56, opened the first of 22 dates dressed in black, leading a procession of backing singers on stage singing Lily from her 1993 album The Red Shoes. Shortly after the show began the writer Caitlin Moran tweeted: “Kate bush, in black, barefoot, hounds of love, running up that hill, king of the mountain. JESUS”. Barefoot, Bush continued the set with Hounds of Love and Running Up That Hill.
Chad Siwek, 30, who flew over from Los Angeles, California, for the concerts and has ticket for the first three nights, described standing at the venue on Tuesday night as “like a dream”.
“Kate Bush just means everything to me, she cares more about her work and pleasing her fans than the commercial value or just making money off it,” he says, stopping as his voice breaks with emotion. “I’m sorry, I’m getting choked up, but it’s just my whole life I’ve been a huge Kate Bush fan. I’ll cry when she comes out and I think I’ll just be in awe that it’s really her as I’ve never seen her in person. It’s going to be really special and to be here means more than any other moment of my life.”
He added: “The first album I heard of hers was the Never for Ever album, so for me it was discovering her works from that point and getting all of her albums, every single, every record, they all mean so much to me.
“I’ve thought so much about what the show could be like tonight that I’ve thought through every possible scenario I think that could happen. I’m just trying to be open-minded and just see what happens. I’m a member of a dozen Kate Bush groups on Facebook, but I silenced them all so I don’t have any spoilers because I just want her to be able to surprise me and I think she will.”
Siwek was not the only member of the patiently waiting crowd who had flown from Los Angeles, with Daren Taylor, drummer for band The Airborne Toxic Event, among those right at the front of the queue.
He said: “I’ve flown in from Los Angeles, California today just to see Kate Bush. It’s not easy to express what Kate Bush means to me. Her music touches me, and I’m sure everybody here, in very unique ways. I don’t think any two people will tell you the same thing that her music means to them.”
Bush, he said, had been a presence in his life since he first heard Running Up That Hill when he was five and she had influenced his music ever since.
“I flipped out when I heard the tickets were on sale,” he added. “Luckily I’m on her mailing list so I was eligible for pre-sale but that happened at 10am in the UK so it meant I had to be up at 2am in the morning in California in order to get these tickets so that’s what I did. At first when I realised I had got one I was very excited of course but the second thought was ‘how on earth am I going to get out there?’. But it’s completely worth it. I have no hopes for tonight, I have no expectations – if it is just her and a piano I’d be fine with that and anything else is bonus. I’ll take whatever song she wants to play as I think she’s absolutely extraordinary.”
The set list for the show had been kept under wraps, though the performance itself was expected by many to include similar theatrics to her 1979 show, which included 17 costume changes and six dancers dressed as violins as well as a combination of mime, flamboyant dancing and poetry. For this series of shows the influential singer is reported to have spent three days in a flotation tank at Pinewood Studios to create the special effects.
While some fans had speculated that the show will include The Ninth Wave, a seven-track concept piece from her bestselling 1985 album Hounds of Love, about a woman drifting alone in the sea, others said they would be content even with something low-key.
“It’s not going to be a straight-up gig, is it?” said Susie Martin, 28, a teacher from Barnsley and lifelong Bush fan who said she had cried when she heard that the singer was ending her 35-year moratorium on touring. “But equally I’d like to just see her up on stage, one piano, one spotlight, Moments of Please and Under the Ivy, This Woman’s Work. Because I think she’s at her absolute best, she’s peerless, when it’s just her and a piano and that voice. Today is quite overwhelming.”
Asked what Bush meant to her, Martin added: “Her music is so original, so stunning, so beautiful but it’s not just the music it’s the visual aspect of it, it’s the lyrics, she puts everything into it and never compromises. Every emotion in your life, whatever you are feeling there’s a Kate Bush song for it to help you get through things or dance wildly round your bedroom.”
Waiting fans also said they would be more than happy to oblige with Bush’s request made via her website last week that they do not record footage or take photos during the show, writing: “I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras.”
Guillaume Chatelain, 29, who travelled from France to attend the opening night of the concert, said he would not have any screen held up between him and Bush or let anything ruin a moment he had been waiting for since he first heard Babooshka on the radio when he was 14. “Tonight will be amazing, but it can’t possibly be anything else when it is Kate Bush,” he said. “She was my first love.”