Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kate Bush Returns To The Stage After 35 Years

"I'm coming back to his put it right"
During my formative dating years, there became a point within the relationship where I would introduce the young woman to the other love of my life: Kate Bush.

It could be a very daunting moment because, admittedly, Kate is  an acquired taste, and she sometimes wasn't received with the same amount of enthusiasm as I possessed. From this point, depending on the reaction, a few ladies were taken farther into this woman's work. These ended up becoming weirdly significant in terms of how deeply I felt about the person in the relationship. To love Kate was to love a part of me, I suppose, and if they could somehow see the brilliance of Kate then they could somehow relate to me better.

And they always understood that I would leave them at a moment's notice if Kate ever called up to propose.

Midwestern Top 40 radio (yes, the region makes a difference) was an unexciting mix of uninspired hits and Wonder bread melodies. Sometimes you would hear a track bubbling under the Top 20 songs, but these spins were restricted to evenings and  overnights. There was very little space provided to chance and anything deemed too "urban" for these stations was avoided like the plague.

Bush managed to crack the U.S. Top 40 with "Running Up That Hill," a song that did ease its way into the area radio stations before quickly retreating once again. A few girlfriends vaguely remembered the track, but admittedly, this song was somewhat of an anomaly compared to her album tracks.

Moving backward reveals a weirder muse working with Bush, and those earlier records also add a touch of youthful flamboyance. It's in full view on the Live At Hammersmith Odeon concert, a video released in the early 80's that remains as the only recorded document of her 1979 Tour Of Life shows. For a few "lucky" ladies, I would whip out a shitty vhs dubbed copy of this performance and wax on and on about how great of an artist Kate was.

The Tour Of Life is getting a lot of attention lately, thanks to the huge news that Bush would be returning to the stage this Fall in a 15 date tour being called Before The Dawn. Trouble is: these 15 dates are in London, as the reclusive Bush is reportedly not a fan of flying, making the idea of a world tour highly unlikely.

So if you want to get a pair of tickets for the shows, you're left with this option: try to find them at one of the four dates in August or any one of the dates until September 19th at a venue in London that only holds about 3,600. The servers to Kate's website crash when news of these new live dates went public, so I would imagine that these 3,600 x 15 seats will go insanely fast. Edit: They sold out within 15 minutes. They've now added 7 additional dates to the initial 15, but those have also sold out.

This proves to be an issue for a fan like me, from Iowa, and without suitable resources that I can drop everything this September and fly over to London to catch a show, never mind the near impossibility that I could even get a ticket to begin with.

The murmurs about Kate's return to the stage began a few years ago. It was believable to the point where I could actually see how the current state of the music industry may the idea of Bush performing again a reality. I'm guessing that her semi-retirement and loonnnggg stretches in between records was funded by consistent record sales, sales that have all but shriveled up.

While I certainly don't expect Ms. Bush to divulge her bank ledger to the world, I can't help but wonder if this entire project is financially motivated. But whatever. In the end it's prompting Kate to work in a medium that hinted at enormous potential the last time she graced the stage.

Which begs the question: Why did she leave the stage after her promising debut?

The rumor was the death of a young lighting crew member during one of the tour dates caused her to avoid live performances, but there was very little supporting this theory.

In 2011, she cited "exhaustion" to The Telegram, which if you've seen the Hammersmith-Odeon video, you can clearly understand how plausible  the explanation is. There are numerous costume changes, ridiculously theatrical choreography, and a sprite Kate utilizing a microphone headset while running around the entire stage for a solid 90 minutes. It's both hard to watch and hard to look away from, but when you consider it's the warped vision of a 20 year old woman and compare it to the hyper-sexual theatrics of a Miley Cyrus concert, you tend to appreciate it more. Kate is clearly working from a more advanced inspiration during these shows.

Ironically, the attempt to promote or report on the sexuality of her performances was another reason Kate walked away from live performances. Her early records are filled with songs of sex, lust, menstruation and pregnancy-all very striking statements from someone just barely of age. The live performances don't exactly exploit these topics as they do visualize them, and more recently she's cited the uncomfortable feeling she had with that focus on her sexuality as another reason she's isolated herself in the studio ever since.

Looking at the output she's provided since that tour from 1979, I'm fine with that decision. But I'm also hugely intrigued at her return to the stage and hope that it's not a retirement set. I'm also hoping that the reports of her fear of flying don't prevent her from coming to America at some point, but I'm realistic and understand that this will probably never happen.

I've already begun to formula a dream set list for the London dates, but even the title Before The Dawn seems to indicate there's something special afoot. Of course, that's always been the case with Kate. And if I ever want to be reminded of that, I can always return to the color-saturated video of the Tour Of Life that still resides in the few vhs tapes that have made it this far.

I couldn't let it go.

Unlike all those former girlfriends who were treated to a showing of this flawed relic, I'm still true to my first love.

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