I’ve been living with Kate Bush since before I was born. I first fell in love with her music when my mum repeatedly sang The Man With the Child in His Eyes to me when she was pregnant, and in the 30 years since then her music has woven itself completely into the tapestry of my life, a constant source of comfort and reminiscent of some of the most beautiful and poignant moments I’ve experienced.
I never imagined that I would get the chance to see her perform live – her only tour (until now) took place in 1979 and since then there’s been barely a whisper about Kate Bush in the press let alone any hint that she might perform again anytime soon. The announcement earlier this year that she was performing throughout September at a fairly intimate venue in Hammersmith was quite literally a dream come true for me. I’ve been twice this month and apart from the sheer pleasure of having seen her live I’ve also been left feeling inspired in ways that I could never have imagined.
Anyone that’s spent years living with Kate Bush in their life knows that she’s unique, some would say eccentric. Mimicking birdsong, singing the number pi, braying like a donkey – she is one kooky lady and that’s why we love her. But this very thing that we celebrate in an artist like Kate Bush is something that we’re all too quick to criticise in ourselves. All too often we push our own eccentricities to one side in favour of doing something more normal and sensible, something safer. We don’t push the boundaries of who we are. We apologise for the things that make us different or, worse, keep those things hidden away completely. Yet, having seen the complete and utter outpouring of love for Kate at both of the concerts I’ve seen in the last month, I know now that it’s only by embracing your quirks and truly being you that you can really touch people and give your unique gift to the world – and, more often than not, when you do so the world responds with absolute rapture. One man in the audience was actually convulsing with joyful sobs as she played the last song of the show – would that have happened if she’d opted for a safer career path? If she’d made herself less vulnerable to attack and come into his life as a dental nurse or his gardener? I doubt it. There’s nothing wrong with any profession, it takes all sorts, but what I’m getting at is that you should do what you’re passionate about and take that passion as far as it will go. It’s possible do things in a totally unique way, to follow a completely untrodden path and be an unbridled and utter success in your own special way.
Kate’s concert was a mix of theatrical performance, dance and song, it followed a distinct narrative, weaving a story through albums that until Before The Dawn had seemed unrelated. I’ve never seen this kind of storytelling before at a concert. We were guided through the mysterious world of Kate Bush; simultaneously melancholic, hopeful and magical. Her brothers, husband and son all had prominent roles in Before The Dawn and for someone so often described as reclusive it felt as though she brought her whole self to the stage and shared an authentic glimpse of who she is with her audience. Kate Bush puts everything of herself into her music and does so unashamedly. Having seen the overwhelmingly positive response that this wholehearted approach got from the audience, not to mention the absolute joy she seemed to get herself from performing live, she taught me that not only is it ok to embrace your uniqueness, it’s absolutely vital if you really want to live the life that’s meant for you and people will love you for it.