You can always tell a real performer when it comes to a pop gig. Behind the millions of pounds of pyrotechnics, confetti cannons and video projections, a proper performer knows that sometimes the most dramatically effective thing can just be the slow dance of a piece of fabric as it falls from the sky. This represents Kate Bush’s comeback gigs in a nutshell. The shows were on a crazily huge scale for such a small venue, and yet behind the epic seascapes and puppetry there was a performer who could keep a crowd enraptured with simple moments and that still incredible powerhouse of a voice.
She could have done anything for these gigs. She could have just come on stage, done a bit of Running up that Hill banter with the crowd and then sat back stage counting in the money. The first forty minutes or so followed this formula (save for the counting money bit) with Bush pre-countering any critics who may say she was relying on theatrics. A few classics appeared in this early segment, alongside fan favourites (weirdly, the songs most warmly received by the crowd were not the classics, Running up that Hill or Hounds of Love but Red Shoes’ track Top of the City). Of course, it was all amazing: partly for Bush’s voice, which was just stunning live but also because it was difficult to believe that this was really happening, that we got something no one in music thought they would ever see again.
From then on, things got weirder very quickly. Most were expecting The Ninth Wave, Kate Bush’s song suite about a drowning woman, to be featured heavily based on the tour posters of Bush in a lifejacket. What we got was the suite in its entirety, performed as a rock opera of sorts, with helicopters, a life-size buoy and a very strangely acted segment featuring her real life family doing a domestic scene as she looked on and sang a haunting rendition of Watching You Without Me. Some have complained about the lack of hits in this show, with nothing from the first four albums or The Sensual World being played, but quite frankly, anyone who wasn’t excited and then thrilled by seeing her do The Ninth Wave in full did not deserve their ticket.
After the interval, Kate performed her second suite of songs An Endless Sky of Honey from 2005’s AeriaI, a group of songs about…well, your guess is as good as mine. I feel my personal notes for this segment of the gig on September 24th at the Eventim Apollo pretty much say it all:
painting – artist
mannequin – ?WHY BLEEDING?!
birds/people as birds/bird hands
KB’s son as Rolf Harris (can I mention this was Rolf Harris on the album)
NEW SONG! Very KB, but she’s not doing it – could this still mean album?
WHAT IS HAPPENING!!
And so it goes on like that for a good page and a quarter. All in all, writing about the gig feels like a redundant experience – these gigs were a once in a lifetime experience (and I don’t mean that as a cliché, this genuinely might be the only time she does this). Unfortunately, it can’t be summed up if you weren’t there to share in the experience of getting goosebumps as she led the band into Cloudbusting. All you can do is pray there’ll be a DVD.