Interviews & Articles


Melody Maker
Palladium concert review
by Susan Hill
April 21, 1979

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

Melody Maker
April 21, 1979

Kate Bush
Palladium, London

One could say of St Pancras "c'est magnifique, but ce n'est pas le gare." To describe Kate Bush at the Palladium as bold, bravo and stunningly effective is to say that Fred Astaire could dance a little. Her performance was risky, teetering often on the brink of the periously over-blown, but a nerveless triumph of energy, imagination, music and theatre.

Original and unique don't necessarily mean brilliant. But what Katy did, on Sunday, was to achieve a series of tableaux vivants of peerless visual and aural dazzle that added immeasurably to the complexity and variable excellence of her songs. I think she must have been practising.

The performance was breathless, breathtaking and perfectly integrated. No pauses, no chatter. Simply -- or, rather, elaborately -- and beautifully one long song-and-dance. Using most of the material from " The Kick Inside" and " Lionheart " and then some, she was mesmerically centre-stage for a good two hours -- scampering, vamping, whirling and grinding.

The voice (both that impossible chandelier-shaking squeal and that sinking throatier register) swooped loud and true round the theatre. The little mike round her face looked disconcertingly like a thermometer at first, but it enabled her to sing on her back, on her front, in the air and while locked in such various subltle embraces as to make my companion stiffen in his seat.

She owes much to her eight-piece band and back-up singers; especially to three extraordinary dance partners; to marvellously effective lighting and costumes; and to sexy choreography (yes, she's read Mime Kemp).

But she has the brains as well as the size and voice behind it all, and although she's derivative in some ways, she is creatively so. Pinching moods from Theda Bara, Douglas Fairbanks, Lilian Gish and Bogart movies, and matching them to the shifting, jerky and silky-then-strident rhythms of her songs worked easily.

Occasionally (viz. "Wow") she couldn't quite capture the purity of the recordings. Sometimes she does sound shrill, and when she takes a breather at the piano for a slow song like "Feel It," Lynsey De Paul is distressingly recalled. Still, win some, lose some. It's also true that without the visual distractions much of Kate Bush's material could become monochromatic, since many songs have the same shape. But you forgive, forget and remember such moments as the exquisite "Strange Phenomena", "Moving", "Violins" [sic] and "Little Warm Room". [sic]

Her dance to "Hammer Horror" (which she mimed, to a tape), was in the Salome class -- bring me the head of Yma Sumac -- and she closed with "James And The Cold Gun", prowling with cordite in her eyes and a rifle in her hand. It recealled the end of a Sergio Leone movie, with the band rising to a cacophonous climax.

In her encore, she carried on wuthering for ten minutes. I was bushwacked.

Susan Hill

To the Reaching Out (Interviews) Table of Contents

"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush

Reaching Out
is a
Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds