When one of your favourite living artists stopped live gigs years before you were born, seeing her eventually perform live, feels surreal. Given her rare performances, superfans have turned to impersonators, theme parties, interviews with her stage dancers, fiction with fortifying titles like Waiting For Kate Bush and her biography Under The Ivy (updated in 2014). One of these fans is Sarah-Louise Young and because healthy fandom is always about community, she has dedicated a whole evening to being a Kate Bush fan.
It does not matter if it was cool to listen to the record-breaking, chart-topping songwriter from Kent (whose debut album arrived in 1979) or not – because An Evening Without Kate Bush proves you were on the right side of pop history, no matter when you discovered her. That you can still be enchanting while sticking two fingers up the norm-core establishment, bust clouds, run up hills and, if you could, make a deal with God instead.
Without having the aspiration to sound like her idol, Sarah-Louise Young sings well, but it would not matter if she does not – she shines with her own, inner Kate Bush. Look forward to listening to Babooshka completely in Russian (and hence with the apparently correct intonation), and to have Don’t Give Up sampled with multilingual YouTube comments and transformed to a poem of our time which would have Dave Gorman in tears of laughter.
Kate Bush’s more recent oeuvre, those albums dropped sparsely in this century, are name-dropped, not much more – this is a celebrating sing-along experience of the late 1970s and 1980s: Spandex, armed capes, rubber bands, mobs, wigs, wigs made from mobs, shawls. In retrospective and from a 2022 point of view, you might consider the outfits a crossover of Pippi Longstocking, Princess Leia and Bicycle-era Freddie Mercury who are all three hosting a Game of Throne party together.
It is a beautiful evening for us legacy Fish People and surely for those freshly converted (as a tribe, we seem very inclusive): How many pub choirs have dared singing Wuthering Heights, improvised and without projected lyrics anywhere? When I had the chance of singing it karaoke at a Hounds Of Love album release immersive experience (London, eh?) I did not dare to. Here, on velvety benches, I do, celebrating music with others. And therefore, standing ovation for Sarah-Louise Young: How many artists have said goodbye to every audience member personal in the foyer after the show?
Pre-pandemic, the Soho Theatre used to be my monthly Crick Crack Club haunt (remember those signature magenta-coloured tickets?), but I have not made it to the venue’s downstairs stage so far. We are sitting on red benches surrounding the audience tables and chairs, reminiscing about the little miracle of us going out again and that we were also lucky enough eight years ago to get tickets to see the real Kate Bush during her concert residency. This having been a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the people we chatted to next to us at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2014 with had solely flown from Los Angeles to see her. Now, over two years after the tickets to an evening without her have been paid for, I wonder if the collective thought of Kate Bush being in the audience is going through the Soho Theatre’s downstairs. She surely will find a suiting incognito. She might have been even on stage. With Kate Bush, you never know what comes next. And when.
***** out of 5 stars
An Evening Without Kate Bush continues its national tour in 2023.
In January 2020 I paid £17 per ticket which was honoured by the Soho Theatre’s very welcoming box office team once the tour was rescheduled for 2022.