There are some musical artists that defy categorization and their very uniqueness is the thing that caught your attraction in the first place. This keeps you going back to them every few years, like a puzzle that you’ve not quite solved or a book where there is still an unread chapter. With Catherine Bush, there always feels like something to go back for, even if it is just to gain a reminder of what caught you in her spell in the first place.
It’s as true for Kate Bush as any other pop star, perhaps more so, that once you become a fan of her music you can’t really go back to the state of affairs before you heard her. She clearly doesn’t sound very much like anybody else (except some who came after her)and her music treads such a fine line between whimsy, lunacy and the downright odd that it’s often easy to loose sight of how good her material is, and how thought provoking and occasionally life affirming her music and lyrics can be. At least two of her singles (“Wuthering Heights” and “Running up That Hill”) were so unlike anything heard in the top ten before that they must have caused people to double take their attention and catch themselves; who is this and what is she singing about? So, once a Kate fan, forever a Kate fan I would say, because even the overplayed singles keep on giving, rewarding you with a fresh surprise years after you last heard them. Perhaps the only pity for fans is that she hasn’t toured since 1979, perhaps due to the death of her 21 year old lighting director Bill Drummond, although I suspect it is more to do with the huge work and exhaustion involved in getting the final show just right. With this being Kate Bush, the tour wasn’t just an average tour, it was a full mixed-media performance piece. Whatever the reason it looks unlikely she’ll tour again (barring the occasional live appearance), but with Kate you just never know.
If you’re reading this you probably know the Kate Bush story by now- how the teenage Bush was ‘discovered’ by Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour, wrote much of her first album when she was at school, stood up to the big wigs at EMI so they would release her choice of song as her first single (the chart topping Bronte inspired “Wuthering Heights”). Her idiosyncratic image and music quickly got her noticed and late ‘70s Britain really took to her, culminating in her 1979 TV Christmas special and further success in Europe, Japan and Australasia, amongst many other places. In the United States she would have to wait a little longer for mainstream recognition, although she would remain very much a cult star. By the time she released her defining work and knocked Madonna off pole position (1985’s album Hounds of Love) she was just 26. Continue reading