Hammersmith Apollo, London
A flash of white lights up the blue, and Kate Bush leads her five
backing vocalists, who include her sixteen year old son, Bertie,
onstage in a jaunty conga as her seven-piece band kick into Lily, from
Bush's 1993 The Red Shoes album. Twelve nights into her twenty-two
night marathon, it's a playful opening to Bush's first live shows for
thirty-five years, which have rightly generated screeds of praise for
their inherent theatricality.
Over the course of three acts, a delighted Bush get back to her
pub-band roots in the first six numbers of sophisticated funk and a
couple of hits punctuated by showbizzy “I really hope you enjoy this,”
type cooings. This is followed by two suites, The Hounds of Love's The
Ninth Wave, and, following an interval, Aerial's A Sky of Honey,
performed in their entirety.
With dialogue by novelist David Mitchell and co-direction by former RSC
boss Adrian Noble, these are revealed as a pair of magical-realist
prog-pastoral operettas. The first features sea creatures straight out
of 1970s Dr Who and a living-room scene that could have been scripted
by Caryl Churchill by way of Monty Python.
The pre-interval finale of The Morning Fog reinvents the song for the
sixteenth century as much as the twenty-first, with the band cast as
mediaeval minstrels while the sea monsters dance a slow jig of
reconciliation akin to one of Shakespeare's frothiest rom-coms. With
the entire band dressed as birds in a second half of puppet-led
narrative, this is as tastefully avant-garde as it gets in a show that
is a joy to watch as much to listen to.
The Herald, September 8th 2014