Thursday 22 February 2018

Enigmatic Bush set to branch out

Going live: Kate Bush’s decision to play 15 concerts at the Hammersmith Appolo in London this summer has created a buzz
Going live: Kate Bush’s decision to play 15 concerts at the Hammersmith Appolo in London this summer has created a buzz
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

It HAS been heralded like a momentous world event. And in some senses it is. The eternally ethereal and occasionally high-pitched Kate Bush is to perform live later this summer for the first time since the Ice Age, or at least 35 years.

The run of shows is to be called Before The Dawn, which is almost as enigmatic a title perhaps as the singer herself, who is what you might call reclusive. You won't see her at the VIP Magazine Style Awards at The Marker, in other words.

Although the Greta Garbo of pop did appear bizarrely on Delia Smith's TV cookery show in 1980 to exhort the virtues of being vegetarian ("One day I had a stew and there was a bit of meat in the stew and it was so raw that I just identified immediately that this was an animal and I just thought, 'No, I'm not into this'.") and nuts ("There are things that I think people miss out on because they think there's a very select area where you use nuts. but I think you can use them in anything.")

Adding to the mystique and the myth are the large gaps that she leaves between her albums: Hounds Of Love (1985), The Sensual World (1989), The Red Shoes (1993), Aerial (2005), 50 Words For Snow (2011). She is certainly unique in the music business where creative homogeneity is prized. John Lydon, of PIL and Sex Pistols, once said of her: "Kate Bush is a true original. It's not nice that she's been imitated [by artists like] Torrid Aimless, sorry, Tori Amos."

"Kate Bush changed my life – I am dizzy with excitement about these shows," gushed The Guardian's Deborah Orr two weeks ago, adding with equal recourse to froth: "It's probably people like me, in part (fanatics – we are legion), that induced her to keep a low profile all these years. The low profile, of course, only made Bush all the more admirable in our eyes."

Writers of a certain philosophical bent seem to view experiencing Ms Bush in their youth as a rite of passage. "For more than 30 years, Kate Bush's voice seems to have come out of nowhere," recalled Tim Adams in The Observer in 2010. "I remember the first time I heard it; the release of Wuthering Heights in 1978 coincided with my third year at grammar school in Birmingham, studying Emily Brontë's novel in our English lessons. We were 13, it was a boys' school; hormones were running high. Bush seemed, uncannily, to be talking just to us." Indeed, had Pink Floyd's David Gilmour not taken a musical shine to the 16-year-old chanteuse from Bexleyheath, Kent, and recommended her to his record company EMI, her 1978 debut single, Wuthering Heights, would never have come about.

Born Catherine Bush on July 30, 1958, she shares a birthday with Emily Brontë – on whose novel of the same name her song Wuthering Heights was loosely based – and has been hugely influential: everyone from Sinead O'Connor to Bat For Lashes to PJ Harvey to, among many, others, Bjork.

The latter said this of Kate: "To me, Kate Bush will always represent the age of exploring your sexuality, when you change from a girl to a woman.

"I guess that's what I found fascinating about Kate, she totally stuck out. She created her own look and sound. There's a timelessness to her music."

Bush, in an 2005 interview with MOJO magazine, declared herself nonplussed at the many myths about her over the years. She said at the time: "A lot of the time it doesn't bother me. I suppose I do think I go out of my way to be a very normal person and I just find it frustrating that people think that I'm some kind of weirdo reclusive that never comes out into the world. Y'know, I'm a very strong person and I think that's why, actually, I find it really infuriating when I read, 'She had a nervous breakdown' or 'She's not very mentally stable, just a weak, frail little creature'."

The idiosyncratic and multi-millionaire legend lives quietly in a secluded mansion in Berkshire with her husband and partner of 20 years, Danny McIntosh, and their teenage son, Bertie. "I hadn't always wanted children," she said of her son. "People say that magic doesn't exist, but I look at him, think I gave birth to him and I know it does."

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