Entertainment & Arts

Kate Bush comeback: What the critics said

Kate Bush Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Kate Bush's show combined conventional musical performance with theatricals and video projections

Kate Bush's first concert since 1979 has been greeted with overwhelmingly positive reviews by newspaper critics.

Writing in The Guardian, Alexis Petridis said her Before The Dawn performance was "another remarkable achievement" in the musician's career.

The Mirror added that the star's stage show was "unprecedented" and "only one artist" was able to pull it off.

Bush's voice is "clearly untroubled by the passage of time", declared Andy Gill of The Independent.

He added that elements of the show were "quite stunning, undoubtedly the most ambitious, and genuinely moving, piece of theatrical pop ever seen on a British stage".

Jan Moir, reviewing the gig for the Daily Mail, touched upon the passage of time since Bush's last performance on the stage of London's Hammersmith Apollo, declaring that "age has not withered our Kate".

"Certainly, her voice still sounds terrific," Moir wrote of the 56-year-old. "It has deepened and mellowed with age, edging those famous soprano trills just out of range."

"After all this time, Kate Bush remains that rare thing, a performer who is truly original and fully realised. Hers is a large-scale spectacle, vividly realised and unlike anything else in town."

Many critics made reference to the absence of big hits in the set list, with The Telegraph's Bernadette McNulty saying: "Anyone hoping for a greatest hits set including the likes of Wuthering Heights would have been disappointed: Bush as ever was not going to follow in any rock comeback tradition."

Adding her verdict on Bush's performing prowess, she added: "Her voice was an undiminished roar, surprisingly rich and powerful after such a long break."

The Guardian's Alexis Petridis added his opinion on the absence of early songs. "She's a hugely engaging live performer, confident enough to shun the hits that made her famous in the first place: she plays nothing from her first four albums," he wrote.

But the critics collectively noted that her fans were appreciative of her presence, with Petridis detecting an "atmosphere noticeably different than at any other concert".

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Media captionGemma Arterton and Anna Calvi gave BBC Newsnight their take on Kate Bush's comeback concert

The Independent's Andy Gill was struck by the staging, with "several coup de theatre including a 'helicopter' flying over the audience, a swirl in smoke and spotlights, a buoy bobbing across the stage, and a tragicomic sitting-room tableau set in a submerged room of cockeyed Caligari-esque angles."

Petridis added: "The concert-goer who desires a stripped down rock and roll experience, devoid of theatrical folderol, is thus advised that Before the Dawn is probably not the show for them."

However, The Guardian critic said the mystique of the whole show was that "almost uniquely in rock history, the vast majority of the audience has virtually no idea what's going to happen before it does".

McNulty also remarked upon the show's staging, deciding: "There was something thrilling about seeing the often bonkers but still delightful imagination of Bush run free after all this time" - although she did call some of the skits "hammy".

The critic was also less convinced of the first, less theatrical segment of Bush's show, saying her costume made her look like a cross between Loretta Lynn and Sandie Shaw, while branding her stage presence "gauche and bashful".

Yet the Mirror's reviewer Gavin Martin heaped praised on the whole experience, concluding: "There was undoubtedly only one artist who would have had the bloody mindedness, nerve and beautifully skewed imagination to pull it off."

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