Monday, 23 September 2019

Review: Kate Bush-ka, Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead

Review: Kate Bush-ka, Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead

Kate Bush-ka | Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead | Saturday, August 10

AS an early Kate Bush fan, I couldn’t resist seeing 23-year-old Katy Smith attempt to recreate the sight and sounds of my youth.

She opened with Moving and Oh, To Be in Love from Bush’s first (1978) album The Kick Inside and, surprisingly, her soft vocals, studied intonation and gestures bore a remarkable similarity.

Big hair, leggings, wrap-top, legwarmers and silver heels completed the look.

The band then upped the pace with James and the Cold Gun, with Paul Jones on bass, Andy Lee on keys, Danny Wilson on lead guitar and Kate’s dad, Gary on drums.

Katy effortlessly kept up with the changes of pace and tone, with a perfect solo note on ‘cold gun…’ and we all began to feel it.

Sitting cross-legged on stage, she sang Man with the Child in his Eyes and L’Amour Looks Something Like You beautifully, before swinging into the reggae beat of Them Heavy People and using the full stage. Katy then launched into Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake and with her dad on drums, this brought out father and daughter’s punk rock influences and showed again her vocal range between Bush’s harsh sounds and soft melody.

Reappearing in flying jacket (still in silver heels), Katy sang a pitch-perfect rendition of the evocative Oh England my Lionheart which, for me, was one of the highlights.

This was as near as possible to pure and honest Kate Bush, as was the technically-difficult Kashka from Baghdad.

Next, we were treated to full hands and hair in a rendition of Wow ending the first set on perfect “oo”s. It was impossible not to join in with “You’re unbeliev...able”.

In the second set, the band opened with an energetic performance from dad on drums to Running Up That Hill, which brought cheers from the audience and a smile from Katy, followed by Hounds of Love.

Re-emerging in full camo-gear — jacket, helmet, rifle (still in those the silver sandals), Army Dreamers reminded us all how ground-breaking Bush’s early tracks are.

After telling the crowd that Kate Bush’s music should be heard by all — prompting more applause — she continued with a performance of Cloudbusting which was impossible not to join in with.

Moving on to The Dreaming, I admired Katy for her brave choice of Sat In Your Lap complete with arm gestures, Bush at her maddest, ending with a perfectly staccato “a-cross-the-wa-ter.” Breathing was sung with suitable passion and, echoing the darker side of Kate Bush’s performances, a cloak was used to full effect to reveal an authentic Babooshka costume, which was received to rapturous applause.

Another highlight was father and daughter’s touching delivery of Don’t Give Up, Peter Gabriel’s duet, sung sensitively by both and received with enthusiasm by the audience.

The band exited the stage to shouts for an encore and sure enough, the band reappeared and pulled off a credible performance of Wuthering Heights.

A celebration of Kate Bush’s music, it certainly was, with full costume changes and theatricality. Did I feel guilty at enjoying a tribute band so much? Yes. Did I go home and listen to the originals for hours? Yes. Would I do it all again? Absolutely.

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