Kate Bush – Live at Hammersmith Apollo – Review by Linda Buckley
From the remote peninsula of the Old Head of Kinsale, I asked my mother if I could join the Kate Bush fan club. I filled in my application and sent the letter off to England. I remember that feeling of excitement when the post would come, a letter addressed to me, signed photos of Kate. I was not yet ten years old.
I can’t remember the exact moment when her music captured my imagination – I do recall seeing this flitting figure in a long white dress singing about Cathy so cold outside the window, with a voice that reached stratospheric heights. To my young self, she was an enigma. I pretended to be her in the video, dancing around in my white nightdress. Later, older sisters would go looking for me – I was behind a tree deeply immersed in reading Wuthering Heights. I distinctly remember unwrapping the plastic from the Lionheart record and turning it in my hands, that picture of her, all mad hair and steeped in fairytale, ‘Oh England my Lionheart’.
Twenty-five years on and I’m asked in a newspaper interview who I would love to see play live in concert. My answer is ‘It’s not likely to happen, but Kate Bush.’ Two days later her shows are announced, her first in thirty-five years, the year I was born. I am gobsmacked, and take it as a sign that I must go.
How can one live up to that kind of expectation, one may ask? Recent articles about the concerts speak with such awe and reverence – it seems the world is suddenly obsessed with her. This never seemed the case when I was growing up with her music.
I go to Before the Dawn with my sisters. The warmth in the room is tangible as Kate walks on stage, straight into Lily from The Red Shoes. Her voice is full and pitch perfect, better than how I had even imagined from the recordings. It is quite awe-inspiring then to experience the next songs sung live – Hounds of Love and Running up that Hill. The Hounds of Love record is well represented with a theatrical and immersive exploration of The Ninth Wave songs. This is incredibly imaginative and ambitious in its scope, and well executed. At times I feel that while it is wonderful to witness this feast for the senses, it is the music, and voice itself that remains the most compelling for me.
One of the most powerful moments occurs near the end of the show with the purity of piano and voice alone stripped bare, an intimate moment of Kate performing alone, the beautiful and heartbreaking Among Angels. The words and melody of this song seem to carry through the following days – the concert may be over, but the memory remains.