KATE Bush. Live. Who’d have thought it? There’s been a rumour for almost every one of the 35 years it’s been since she last graced a stage. But now we know it’s real.
For 15 nights, starting on 26 August, Bush is going to be performing at London’s Eventim Apollo (the same venue where she performed the final shows of her last tour back in 1979, though then it was called the Hammersmith Odeon). It’s enough to send anyone old enough to remember running around the playground in a stiff wind singing “It’s me, Cathy, I’ve come home” into paroxysms of YouTube-fuelled nostalgia.
The videos are a wonder of concept art and horrifying 1980s fashion. Bush and a male partner in identical costumes doing contemporary dance (Running Up That Hill). Dawn French with a fearsome blonde mullet and Hugh Laurie looking about 12 as scientists creating a weapon that uses sound to kill from a distance (Experiment IV). The lyrics are like short stories, taking in everything from bank robbers to jealous wives to a foetus in utero.
Bush was the first woman to write and sing a No 1 single, the first to top the album charts and the first to enter the album charts at No 1. She is a pioneer, an inspiration, an enigma. Not least because in an industry in which promotion has become more important than product, Bush just doesn’t do any. As the albums have arrived, sporadically, rarely, just nine in more than three decades, there’s been the odd phone interview and she doesn’t mind a bit of Skype now and then, but other than that nothing. Bush is such an anomaly that a whole rumour mill has been founded to come up with explanations as to why – she’s mad, a recluse, obese, unwell. There’s more than a touch of rank sexism – she’s been cast as a Miss Havisham, or derided by unnamed music industry executives as “hell” to work with. It’s just that any time anyone who actually knows even a little bit about her always says the nicest things – she’s lovely, humble and modest. She just also happens to be a genius.
The last time she was on stage she created a show that makes Lady Gaga’s antics looking like am-dram meets high school musical. It was visually spectacular, full of dance, she even had a headset mic designed for her so that she could dance as well as sing – seriously, she was the first. After the final show though, she’d decided enough was enough. “By the end,” she said, “I felt a terrific need to retreat as a person because I felt that my sexuality, which in a way I hadn’t really had a chance to explore myself, was being given to the world in a way which I found impersonal.” Young women in pop – Bush was a soothsayer. And now she’s back, a woman of 55, the age when female sexuality faces a different pressure – this time to be invisible – to reclaim her place in the spotlight.
You could never have predicted it and no one, no matter how fevered the speculation becomes between now and that first night, has a clue what Bush will do when she does appear, but it’s going to be special.]
No make-up selfies
RAMPANT narcissism, slacktivism, silliness. I confess I had my doubts about the #nomakeupselfies wheeze that’s been filling up Facebook and Twitter over the last week.
Why is it brave for a woman to be seen not wearing make-up? What’s that got to do with cancer? I whined as yet another picture of Denise in Dingwall, Katy in Kilmarnock and Alison in Aberdeen, each slap-free, appeared in my feed. Not to mention the slebs – Kym Marsh, Holly Willoughby, Michelle Heaton (above). But what started out as a vanity project, literally – just a selfie with the slogan #beatcancer – which made me wonder whether it could really be true that the only meaningful action women can imagine taking in the face of a problem as profound as cancer is be seen without foundation and mascara – has become something much harder to malign.
Cancer Research UK has had donations of more than £2 million in just 48 hours. Who can be churlish in the face of that? Social media is amazing, people’s generosity is astonishing, but I still don’t think it’s brave for a woman to be seen without make-up on.
Good news for hounds
WHO knew about the parallels between me and Liam Neeson? Granted, superficially, they seem slight. He’s tall, Irish, an action hero. I’m short and Scottish. But last week reports flooded in that Neeson had saved a stray dog from a group of marauding youths in New York. He’s since denied that it happened, but ignore that as I, too, rescued a wee wire-haired Jack Russell from the traffic of Leith last week. Me and Liam? Pea and ham. I don’t know what happened to his pooch, but mine was collected from the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home on the same day I dropped him off there. And that is a good news story. «