An evening without Kate Bush is a love letter to the fans
It took over 30 years for Kate Bush to return to the stage, from her 1979 Tour of Life to her 2014 Hammersmith Apollo residency, Before The Dawn.
His loyal army of fans is remarkably patient. In An Evening Without Kate Bush, a different tribute show, performer Sarah-Louise Young explores the music and mythology of one of the most influential voices in British music, but also celebrates the fans.
“I’ve always loved Kate Bush’s music,” says Sarah-Louise. “As a kid in the 70s, I remember that first appearance on Top Of The Pops and those amazing videos and songs. Kate is a true icon: her music is unique, spanning nearly five decades, selling millions of records, but the woman herself is something of an enigma. Her fans have created their own community, “The Fish People. They are at the heart of An Evening Without Kate Bush. We wanted to celebrate them at through his music.
It can’t be easy to capture that vocal range and dance move. “It’s definitely athletic vocal training!” Along with the movement, I spent a day working with the incredible Tom Jackson Greaves, director and choreographer. We watched a lot of his videos. Quite by accident, the nicknames we came up with for his moves, The Pulse, Champagne Whipcrack, for example, ended up in the show. That’s often how it goes with designed work. With the costumes, my brilliant co-creator, Russell Lucas and I tried to evoke it, not copy it. She uses a lot of nature and bird imagery, hence the feathered headdress. The housekeeper’s outfit for This Woman’s Work is as much a nod to the story of the housekeeper we mention at the start of the show as it is to her special where Kate sang Army Dreamers dressed as maid. This is one for super fans.
“We of course watched a lot of footage, videos, whatever we could find, to learn about his journey as an artist. His early interviews are so uncomfortable. He is often asked mundane or overtly sexualized questions.
“She’s so polite, but it’s great to see her later in her career taking the reins and closing investigative leads, which shows that investigators have no idea what they’re talking about.”
Do you have to be a super fan to enjoy this show? “Absolutely not. Of course, if you’re a super fan, you’ll hear a lot of the songs you know and love, plus some hidden gems for those in the know. But none of that comes at the expense of viewers who maybe came with a fan friend or just out of curiosity.When someone tells me after the show that they don’t know their work but are going home to listen to their music, then I’m thrilled.
The show is partly interactive – how does it work? “I have been working in cabaret for over 20 years and my primary goal is for the public to have a good time. It’s great to be challenged, but I want them to feel safe.
“I’m always careful to choose the people who want to participate. If someone doesn’t want to play, their body language communicates it. So far, I’ve never picked someone who didn’t want to be asked. There is a charming moment when I invite a couple to dance together. During our Edinburgh Fringe tour, a mother and son came to dance which brought the whole venue to tears and in London a couple who had just broken up but wanted to remain friends joined us on stage.
“There’s still so much love in the room.”
It was important for Sarah-Louise to create a show that Kate would approve of: “It was created with love, respect and a healthy dose of joyful eccentricity!”
There’s also love for fans: “People have shared incredible personal stories: there’s a man who proposed to his wife from The Kick Inside and a boy who found the courage to come out to his parents after listening to Wow. We’ve heard from fans who have gone to every Tour Of Life date and have tattoos of his lyrics on their arms. We call it a “chaotic cabaret cult”. It’s playful, anarchic, touching, full of music and laughter. I like to hear people’s stories, then I come into the lobby to chat with anyone who wants to stay and talk.
Was it difficult to choose songs for the show? “It was a huge challenge because there are so many over a very long period of time. The Kick Inside and Hounds Of Love are a lot of people’s favorites and first experience of his work. We take well-known songs like This Woman’s Work and Cloudbusting and give them a twist. If you speak Russian, you might like to participate in my version of Babooshka!
“Her fans traveled with her as she evolved. And she influenced so many other artists. She never shied away from writing about the vastness of life, epic themes; the loneliness of love, the wonder of creation, the sensuality of human beings She is one of us and yet totally Other.
* An Evening Without Kate Bush is at the Studio, Bradford, on Wednesday 2 March. Call (01274) 432000 or visit bradford-theatres.co.uk