Artists Of The Year CMU Approved

CMU Artists Of The Year 2014: Kate Bush

By | Published on Thursday 18 December 2014

Every weekday in the run up to the Christmas break, we’ll be revealing another of our ten favourite artists of the year. See the full list of artists announced so far here. Next up is Kate Bush…

Kate Bush

I think the world will always be waiting for Kate Bush; patiently waiting for her to do something else extraordinary. And it still feels that way today, even when she’s already given her all this year, playing night after night after night (over 22 nights) of ‘Before The Dawn’, her first live show since the only other live show of her now 56 years, 1979’s nationwide ‘Tour Of Life’.

Bush is the kind of artist one doesn’t mind waiting for: endlessly strange and exhilarating in what she creates, the old-soul daughter of a Bexleyheath doctor who wrote ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’ when she was thirteen, and has since made some of the most astonishing music, pop and distinctly not pop, of our time. Strike that, of all time.

KB’s presence in recent times, before ‘Before The Dawn’ I mean, has been limited strictly to her rearranged ‘greatest hits’ LP of sorts ‘Director’s Cut’, 2011’s foggy, fantastical ’50 Words For Snow’ (great for disquieting the relatives over Christmas dinner), and the odd rare interview in the midst of it all where she talked very nicely, barely saying anything.

Then in 2012, everyone went wild imagining she might appear at the Olympics Opening Ceremony (as if) to sing to an extended remix of ‘Running Up That Hill’, her old adversarial adage. She didn’t. Then, in spring 2013, she received her MBE. Then nothing, white-out.

So, 2014 was (and still is, just) the year Kate Bush came back, came out from a quiet life in that house that’s sliding off a cliff, and ‘came home’ to the loudly sold out clamour of London’s Hammersmith Apollo, still the Odeon last time she deigned to step out on stage. In a cosmic sort of way the Apollo was like a portal linking the ‘Tour Of Life’ (which ended there) and ‘Before The Dawn’, one of the only constants of both shows and of both eras. Aside from Kate herself, that is, and the miniature world of it’s own that circles her.

Because ‘Before The Dawn’ featured not one single song from the book of ‘Tour Of Life’, and Kate’s wide-eyed slip-of-a-girl beginnings, instead chasing ‘the big hits’ from side one of 1985’s meaty, teeth-baring ‘Hounds Of Love’ with an unabridged performance of that same LP’s latter side ‘The Ninth Wave’, a 30 minute saga-at-sea that follows a lone woman floating on the waves “at the mercy of [her] imagination”.

Apparently (because like most, I wasn’t rich or quick enough to buy tickets for any of the shows) the ‘bringing to life’ of ‘The Ninth Wave’ was a thing of beauty, involving billowing drop-cloths (the waves) and stormy rhythms, a giant whalebone frame, hordes of ‘fish people’, and a score of spotlight moments from Kate and her son – the show’s other anchor – Bertie, who it seems were both in fine voice.

Then there was a real, live interval, after which came a re-enactment of ‘A Sky Of Honey’, a disc off 2005’s ‘Aerial’, in which, fittingly, Kate took a short flight on a woman-sized pair of crow’s wings. Then ‘Among Angels’, then ‘Cloudbusting’, then bed.

None of this was ever meant to gratify the neck-craning ‘treat-seekers’ who might’ve hoped she’d bend and sway her way into a chiffony ‘Wow’ or ‘Kite’ or… OK, ‘Wuthering Heights’ reverie, for old times’ sake. It sounds like it was just Kate Bush, with nothing to prove, moving on a mother’s instinct to sing the songs she loves the most to the fans’ whose love it always seems like she really appreciates.

“I was really delighted that the shows were received so positively and so warmly but the really unexpected part of it all was the audiences. Audiences that you could only ever dream of”, wrote Bush in a polite ‘thank you’ note of the kind you don’t see very often anymore.

“One of the main reasons for wanting to perform live again was to have contact with that audience. They took my breath away. Every single night they were so behind us. You could feel their support from the minute we walked on stage. I just never imagined it would be possible to connect with an audience on such a powerful and intimate level; to feel such, well quite frankly, love. It was like this at every single show”.

And with that, the wait began again.