This morning, Kate Bush announced that she would be playing a series of shows at the Eventim Apollo in London. Dubbed Before The Dawn, the gigs will be her first live shows in 34 years, since 1979's The Tour Of Life, which saw Bush play Europe and Britain for six weeks. To really grasp how earth-shattering the news is, let's consider this: Beyonce was minus two years old when Kate Bush stopped touring.
Bush was reportedly so exhausted after The Tour of Life that she never wanted to repeat the experience; her fear of flying and the tragic death of her lighting director Bill Duffield, who was killed in an accident during her concert at Poole Arts Centre, may have all contributed to that decision. John Kelly, who co-produced her first three records, called it an "absolutely tragedy... like a star dying early".
Looks like Bush is set to change all that: she'll play 15 shows from 26 August, and tickets go on sale at 9.30 am on March 28. In honour of Bush coming back to the stage, here's what we expect (and hope) for her long-awaited return:
When performing "Hammer Horror" onstage, Bush decided to recreate the totally batty and incredibly physical dance she performed in its music video, complete with balaclava-clad backing dancer. In Bush's own words, she wanted the performance to be "totally dedicated to dance, so I could let rip more". Bush is now 55, so we're not sure how limber she still is – but let's face it, she could have eaten kebabs every day for the last 30 years and she'd still be a better dancer than us.
WHATEVER SHE DOES, IT'LL BE GROUNDBREAKING
Given that Bush hasn't toured since 1979, she could basically sneeze onstage for two hours at the Apollo and it would still be considered a historic first. But we've got high hopes. The Tour of Life – her first and only tour – basically destroyed all notions of what a stage concert could do, incorporating everything from dance, poetry, music and theatre. Oh, and a magician. Melody Maker proclaimed it "the most magnificent spectacle ever encountered in the world of rock".
You might not immediately associate Kate Bush's music with pioneering tech, but the singer created the headset microphone that's widely in use today (with a little assist from her tour engineer). She wanted to be able to dance without holding a mic, and wound up devising the precursor to the headset mic while formulating an alternative with a wire clothes-hanger. Who knows what she'll come up with next?
SONGS THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN HEARD LIVE
Bush went on to release nine albums after The Tour of Life came to an end. She's never performed an album tour since, and she hasn't even performed live in 12 years – not since her appearance with David Gilmour at the Royal Festival Hall to sing "Comfortably Numb" in 2002. That means she's got nine albums worth of material to pick and choose from, and most of them will never have been performed live. Ever.
MORE COSTUMES THAN A GAGA GIG
The Tour of Life featured no less than 17 costume changes over the 24 song set. Almost every song featured Bush in a new character: from a gangster in a trench coat on "Them Heavy People" to a top-hatted magician on "Strange Phenomena", along with elaborate costumes for her backing dancers. Sure, Bush might be past the pop star wardrobe days, but part of us still hopes she'll break out the bikini from "Babooshka".
Bush drilled her band and her dancers within an inch of their lives, but that didn't mean she wanted to hog the stage. Peter Gabriel has performed with her, and once joined Bush onstage to sing a cover of the Beatles' "Let It Be" at a benefit concert; David Gilmour has been a longtime champion of hers. An outsider choice? Fryars has collaborated with Simon Drake, the illusionist who helped to devise and performed in The Tour of Life. Maybe Drake could engineer an intro for the electro-balladeer?
SHE'LL PLAY THE HITS
Well, she'll definitely play "Running Up That Hill", at least. There were strong rumours in 2012 that Bush was planning to perform her classic song for the Olympic closing ceremony – a "2012 remix" even went up in the weeks before the ceremony. Bush never appeared at the Olympics and we had to make do with Jessie J pretending to be Freddie Mercury instead.
Bush has always played coy with the rumours, but her last confirmation of a gig proper was back in the 90s, when she told a fan convention that she wanted to play in 1991. Sadly, that never came to pass, but there were strong rumours that she had actually contacted Jim Henson's company (as in, Jim Henson of The Muppet Show) to work with her on a new stage show. Please god, let there be muppets.
Her last album, 2011's 50 Words for Snow, was accompanied by three animation shorts including "Eider Falls at Lake Tahoe", a black-and-white shadow puppet animation. All the shorts – especially "Lake Tahoe" – amply demonstrate that Bush remains as theatrical as ever, and her creativity in bringing songs to life is still in full boom. Some comeback tours may err on the conservative, crowd-pleasing side, but somehow, we don't expect that from Kate Bush. We'll be getting a ticket – will you?
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