Kate Bush is performing live for the first time in 35 years! Most of her fans had given up hope that Bush would ever perform live again and were overjoyed when news came down that the eclectic and brilliant artist was going to perform in London. Bush’s first and only tour to date had been the 1979 tour to promote her debut album, “The Kick Inside.”
The first of 22 shows at London’s Eventim Apollo took place on Tuesday night and the reviews have been sparkling. Tickets for the series of shows, 77,000 in all, went on sale online last March and sold out in only 15 minutes. According to news stories on CNN and other major media outlets, people are flying to London from Japan, the USA, and other far-flung countries to attend one of the performances.
I don’t remember the exact time I first heard Wuthering Heights, her debut single, but I do recall thinking that she was totally unlike anyone, or anything, I had heard before. I was still in my early teens when the young chanteuse exploded on the scene in Britain and I was mostly listening to Led Zeppelin and AC/DC at the time. She never received the kind of adoration and acclaim, as well as the airplay, in the States than she did in Britain because, some say, her songs were “a poor fit for American radio formats.” Or maybe we Americans just had bad taste in music.
After some limited success with “The Kick Inside” and her 1982 album “The Dreaming”, Bush finally scored mainstream, albeit limited success in the States with her 1985 release “Hounds of Love.” My brother sent me a copy of the album and I played it incessantly for many moths afterward. It was one of those records that I would take to my all my friends house’s and insist on playing for them. “Dude, I’ve got to turn you on to this musician named Kate Bush. Have you heard of her?”
Bush’s melding of lush, operatic arrangements with poetic and literary references was totally unique. Her deeply personal songs sung with a soaring soprano and sometimes quirky humor were a revelation to young listeners such as myself who had become jaded with the fluffy pop bands who were dominating the charts in the early and mid 80s. Did I mention that she was beautiful and a talented and trained dancer?
“Hounds of Love” became, and still is, one of my favorite albums ever. More than a decade after its release, I was traveling around the Eastern U.S., and trying to pack as little as possible. Therefore, all of my music was in storage. I recall doing kitchen clean up duty in community that I was visiting. I gazed upon the large stacks of dirty dishes awaiting me and , contemplating the long hour of work ahead, asked if there were some decent music lying around to work to. My coworker for the evening nodded his head behind us and replied, “check on that shelf there.” The first cd I pulled down was “Hounds of Love” and I nearly fell over with delight. It had been many years since I had last played it and the memories came pouring back as we set to work on the dishes, which now seemed to be not a big deal at all.
Fast forward nine years after that unexpectedly fun night in the community, and on a fine September evening I found myself at the Burning Man festival in Nevada with a group of friends. Wanting to stretch my legs and go out for a walk in the desert, my friend and I eventually came upon an intriguing site: an Absinthe bar. We had only recently discovered the sublime nature of the Green Fairie, and we ducked into the boudoir/lounge bar; I quickly ordered up the most exotic Absinthe blend on the menu. Looking around and thinking that life couldn’t get much better, the next moment my ears perked up as the bartender, who was also the dj, slipped “Hounds of Love” into the stereo. I leapt up from the cushions and turned to my friend, “Oh my god, he’s playing Kate Bush. Hounds of Love. The greatest album ever!” My friend, who was in her early 20s, had never heard of Bush.
“OK, old man…is she another woman from the 80s? I know you still love all that old 80s music. Haha.” No matter. I could take the ruthless jibes from the young woman. I had absinthe and Kate Bush. A veritable marriage made in heaven.
I won’t be able to see Kate Bush this month in London. I am not one of the lucky 77,000. I have neither the money, nor the connections to obtain tickets. But like so many of her fans around the world, I will be there in spirit and bask in the reflected glow of the lucky concert-goers.
Kate Bush discography:
The Kick Inside 1978
Never For Ever 1980
The Dreaming 1982
Hounds of Love 1985
The Sensual World 1989
The Red Shoes 1993
Director’s Cut 2011
50 Words for Snow 2011