Kate Bush makes triumphant return to stage after 35 years

Singer kicks off 22 show residency at Hammersmith Apollo

 

Kate Bush has made a sensational return to the concert stage — 35 years after her last, and only, tour.

At 56, the British singer may no longer be able to hit the high notes of her teenage years and she might have cut back on the dancing, but she still has the trademark long dark hair, and she still knows how to put on a show.

Bush was kicking off her Before The Dawn “tour” — 22 shows at the Hammersmith Apollo in west London, the venue where she effectively retired from live performances after six weeks on the road in 1979.

More than 80,000 tickets for her comeback gigs sold out in less than 15 minutes after they were announced in March and there was huge excitement among fans in the run-up to the first night, which had been described “the musical event of the decade”. Tickets had been advertised for sale online for up to £1,000 (€1,250).

As the show began, there was a massive roar from the crowd as Bush walked on stage, dressed in black and leading a procession of backing singers. She opened with Lily, then Hounds Of Love as she appeared to be putting on a conventional gig, singing in front of her seven-strong band.

But after she had sung her hit Running Up That Hill, from her 1985 Hounds Of Love album, a dancer came on stage, cannons fired smoke and confetti into the crowd and she moved into a dramatised version of the Ninth Wave suite of songs from the same album.

Actors dressed as fish, a helicopter rescue with searchlights on the audience, and a domestic scene involving toad in the hole followed in a typically Kate Bush spectacle. The second half continued in a similar vein as Bush performed the Sky Of Honey suite of songs from 2005 album Aerial.

The audience, including Lily Allen, Gemma Arterton and Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, the man who spotted her talent as a teenager, loved every minute.

Bush still knows how to surprise and her encore consisted of a solo song at the grand piano, Among Angels from her 2011 album 50 Words For Snow, followed by crowd- pleaser Cloudbusting.

So there was nothing from her early albums — not even Wuthering Heights. Her fans did not seem to mind. Kyla Fox (41), who had travelled from Newcastle, said: “We’ve just heard musical history. I dreamt of this but never thought I’d see it. This was on my bucket list.”

Bush had asked fans not to take photos or film during the shows — and, unusually, for a modern concert, they respected her wishes.

“We have purposefully chosen an intimate theatre setting rather than a large venue or stadium,” she had said.

“It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows. I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras. I know it’s a lot to ask but it would allow us to all share in the experience together.”

Bush, a doctor’s daughter from Kent, was just 20 when she completed The Tour Of Life with three dates at what was then called the Hammersmith Odeon.

She had topped the charts with Wuthering Heights the previous year, becoming the first woman to go to number one singing one of her own songs.

Today it was revealed that her records are again climbing the UK charts.

Sales figures from the Official Charts Company showed that all nine studio albums and two compilations have been given a sales boost by the gigs.

Her greatest hits collection The Whole Story, which hit number one on its release in 1986, is currently number eight, followed by 1985’s Hounds Of Love at Number 14.

Her 2011 collection 50 Words For Snow and her 1978 debut The Kick Inside are at 32 and 33 respectively and 1989’s The Sensual World is at Number 41.

Further down the chart are The Red Shoes, Never For Eve, The Dreaming, Director’s Cut, Lionheart and Aerial.

PA