woensdag 20 augustus 2014

After 35 years a new encounter with the audience

Tongue-in-cheek look during rehearsal.                                  Drawing: Hans Piët

‘She’s here’, the debut concert-series that Kate Bush did in first half of 1979 was an overwhelming experience. It was a magical spectacle which still lingers in the heads of the people that were there. Now 35 years on Kate feels it is time for a new encounter with her audience.
Will it have the same impact? 

Hans Piët

LONDON“No, I’m not going to reveal anything about ‘Before the dawn’. I want the first show to be a total surprise. You should know better than to ask what the concert will be like. Remember when we met in 1979 to talk about my debut concert-series! I said about the same thing! It’s just no fun to tell the audience upfront what will happen”.
Kate Bush (56) sounds determined. Her face even shows traces of a stern look. It’s only very briefly. For most of the conversation there is this heartfelt smile. And you can feel the warmth of her affection. When offered the change to compare both tours, Kate is hesitant. She remarks that it feels like a devious way to still get information about ‘Before the dawn’. “What really surprised me was the fact that the first fifteen shows were sold out in record time. It’s astonishing and the reason why we added seven more”, she says with her soft sounding, high pitched voice. “Although, when I look back to 1979 about the same thing happened. It is such a compliment when people want to see you. The difference is, that at that time I had two very successful albums and singles that went to number one. Like my debut ‘Wuthering Heights’. It did very well in the charts throughout Europe. I was in demand. This time, that doesn’t seem the case. I mean, my last album ‘50 words for snow’ appeared in 2011. That is almost three years ago. And I’m not that charts-topper I once was”.
Presumably because of your son Albert. I remember you saying to me: ‘my career is over when I have children’. “Modern technology, the hunger to create and the curiosity of my listeners prevented that from happening”, she says with a big smile. “Of course, he was and is the most important part of my life. I can say that, for most of the time, it is so much fun to have a teenage son. He’s very critical of my work and musical as well. I think he’s got a lovely singing voice (as can be heard on ‘Snowflake’) and he plays the violin”.


“But having a recording-room near the house means that I can work on ideas when there are no other urgent matters. And, as you can imagine, I’m grateful that my fans are so patient. At the same time I must add that a concert-series completely spoils the noble idea of family first. During the preparations there is really no time for any other activity.

The tour-jacket from the first European   
concertseries that Kate Bush did in 1979.
Like the last one, I have been working for months. Most of the time it's six days a week and 12 hours a day to get it right. It’s not just the music, but also the visuals that are important to me. I like to wrap the whole thing up in theatrical and visual effects. That is partly because I want to get the message, whether she's important or unimportant, across. And although it won’t be as exhausting for me as the first one, which had a lot of costume-changes and dancing, I want it to be as amusing and as touching as possible for the audience. It is their night out”.
“Music is, well like the first series, the most important ingredient of the show. For me the starting-point will always be that the decoration should complement the compositions. But rock-history constantly shows that there is this conflict. Under the spotlights the visuals are usually much stronger than the sound. I hope that the stage-settings that we conceived will strengthened the stories. I’m so pleased that, like with making records, so much more is possible these days. It really gave my fantasy a boost. Yet, I don’t think we exaggerated. I mean, it is very important to me as a songwriter, that the compositions are treated with respect. So my priority is and will always be to transfer the feeling of the song. In the studio, but also when I’m on stage”.


“To give the show a cozy feel and an element of surprise, I have been considering some new songs, like the last time with ‘Violin’ and ‘Egypt’. Although, looking at my back-catalogue, I have enough to choose from. Songs I never performed on a stage. At the same time I find that, as you get older, new points of view develop. Partly because my voice is lower now. I think age added new textures. It was the reason to do an album like ‘Director’s cut’ (2011). And although there is constantly this element of artistic doubt, I sometimes feel, that some older songs can use a fresh look. What I like about rehearsing is, that sometimes new ideas develop. Who knows, they might be part of the show”.
“What I’m very curious about is what effect these 22 concerts will have on me. I remember that the first series in 1979 changed me as a person and as an artist. In a very short space of time I learned a lot. I came of the tour and considered the songs on my two albums 'The Kick Inside' and 'Lionheart' as old. I said to myself: it’s time to leap forwards, explore and move on. I keep in mind, that I was a lot younger than. Still I’m wondering what will happen”.


Kate says that stage-fright has played only a minor part in the 35 year gap that exists between the tours. “I remember that when we saw each other backstage after the last show, I said that I would never tour
                                                                                    again. It was simply a reaction to the gruesome    
Kate Bush performing 'Violin'. Picture: EMI
schedule of the series. I was exhausted. This time there is a much better balance. Yet, I had enjoyed myself so much, that a few months later I wanted to do another tour. One of the problems was, that I had so many other commitments that it was impossible. What I found was, that the longer I left it, the more frightful the idea of a tour became. Apart from a lot of money, it really takes a lot of preparation, finding theaters, musicians, stage- and costume-designers and so on. The fact that this time all concerts take place in the Eventim Apollo in London means that I don’t have to travel a lot, which is really nice. It’s less tiring. But it also means that we don’t have to move the whole show from theater to theater. And a great plus is, that we can make best use of the stage, as we don't have to consider other venues”.
“What I remember from the last time is, that my nervousness mostly related to the theater in which we were performing. The one time I felt really tight, was before the first show in the London Palladium. This nerve-racking part has a lot to do with the fact that you’re home. That family and friends are in the audience. What I also know, is that as soon as I am on stage, the nervousness is gone. I just become one with the music”.


There are three events that urged Kate into a concert-series. “I was very surprised by the warm reception of the album '50 words for snow'. I never expected it to do so well. As the music-industry is still a fast changing world, I imagined that people would judge my work differently. And as I'm not constantly reaching for the spotlight, because I want to live my life as normal and as quiet as possible, I considered the possibility that my listeners had forgotten about me and had embraced other artists. But the album even got a South Bank Award. Two years later there was a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for services to music from the queen. I was incredibly thrilled. When Dan, my husband, and I got home I said to him: it's time for another tour. I just want people to know how grateful I am for their support".
Time flies when you are having fun. Kate apologizes. She has to go. Well, one last question! Apart from your husband (guitarist Dan McIntosh) will we also see your son Albert on stage this time? ”I’m afraid, that I can’t answer that question”, Kate replies while she walks away with a big smile on her face.

Venue: Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, London.
Concerts: 26th august 2014 (opening night) to 1st October 2014.
Venue open: 19.30.
© Haags Nieuws Bureau 2014