Finally the wait was over and the excitement that had built up over the months since Kate Bush announced her return to the stage was about to reach its peak. What would the show be like when I finally got to see one of my favourite artists of all time? Well to be fair I think that everyone who bought a ticket knew not to expect a greatest hits set. But given Kate’s back catalogue of superb albums I didn’t see that as a problem at all. The show that I saw fell towards the end of the 22 show run at the Hammersmith Apollo so I already knew about the set list. All the reviews of the earlier shows that I read suggested that the set list was fixed for the duration and it was.
There were 25 songs performed during the three-hour show. There were some hits but not many. When Kate entered the stage at the start of the show she received a rapturous standing ovation. How many artists do you know that would get that before they had sung or played a note? She looks really good and her voice is still excellent and seems to have grown richer over the years.
The first half of the show (there was a twenty-minute intermission) began with “Lily”, “Hounds Of Love“, “Joanni”, “Top Of The City”, “Running Up That Hill” and “King Of The Mountain“. Then the theatrical element of the show began in earnest for the song cycle “The Ninth Wave” taken from the original side two of the ‘Hounds Of Love’ album.
The set was truly magnificent as were the special effects, notably the rescue helicopter. Kate’s brother began that section playing a man who had received a distress call from a ship called The Celtic Deep that was in trouble and sinking. This was a filmed segment used to allow the stage to be reset to include the large frame of a ship wreck among other things. There were fish people and other dancers many of whom created the effect of the sea with large sheets with help from the lighting team. Kate’s son Bertie played her son in the dream sequence where Kate as the drowning woman was dreaming of her family during “Watching You Without Me”. In my opinion Kate proved that she is far more prog than any major prog band and I mean that as a massive compliment.
Part two of the show had a completely different set including a massive set of wooden doors. This was built for another song cycle, “A Sky Of Honey” from the second disc of the ‘Aeriel’ album from 2005. There were birds, trees and the artist. I had listened to “A Sky Of Honey” a lot during the past few weeks and I love it. Played live it is something even more magical. Kate’s son Bertie played the artist during this section and he even got his own solo song spot with “Tawny Moon”. He has a reasonably good voice and the song works, however I did feel that it might have been a little too long.
There was also an excellent puppeteer on stage working a fabulous artists wooden model dummy puppet. Late in the show there was a Pinocchio moment when the puppet became real. At the end of “Aerial” Kate in effect became a bird. Was she supposed to have been raised from the stage as a bird? It felt like it but that didn’t happen. I was also pleased to see hardly any sign of anyone filming any part of the show using their mobile phones.
The encore began with Kate singing “Among Angels” accompanied only by her own piano playing. I honestly thought before that point that things couldn’t possibly get any better. But that song was performed supremely well with great emotion and showcased just how good her voice is. The second and final song of the encore saw the whole band and ensemble return to the stage for a rousing and magnificent “Cloudbusting“. It felt like all 5,000 of us were on our feet and singing along; that is probably because we were! Kate thanked the audience many times but I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for deciding to play live again after all these years. Will she ever play live again? Will it be another 35 years? I really don’t care because I was there in 2014! I would love to hear your views if you were at this or any of the other shows.
I went to the show with my brother-in-law Richard Lee (my wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman gave her ticket to her brother) and my friend Alison Wright with her husband Rob. I think we all enjoyed the show, I know that I certainly did. I would also like to dedicate this post to my cousin Deborah Jane Schofield who passed away far too young and was always a fan of Kate Bush.
I will close with the official video for “King Of The Mountain” one of my favourite songs of the evening