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Friday, March 21, 2014

Can Kate Bush still be Kate Bush?

When Kate Bush last played live she was a commercial and artistic sensation. She was a hot ticket at the time but nothing like as hot a ticket as she will be when she starts the first of fifteen shows at Hammersmith in August.

Back then she was twenty-one. She will be fifty-five when she returns to the stage. She has hardly any experience of what she's setting out to do, which is perform live. Nowadays the big live acts are immensely accomplished, because they're playing all the time. They know what the modern audience acts like, smells like, what it expects and how far you can push it. They are masters of their craft. They wouldn't dream of starting by playing fifteen nights in the same place because they would fear that gives them no opportunity to regroup, to fix things that aren't quite right.

I worry about her but what I worry about most is the audience. I worry that nobody could possibly live up to what her fans expect of her. She may not have changed that much in the last thirty five years. What has changed is the climate of expectation, which has now reached hysterical levels. It's been inflated in direct proportion to the rise in ticket prices. People won't be going along to see what kind of performance Kate Bush is going to deliver.  They're going to see her. They're going to enter the presence. They're going because they couldn't bear to miss it. They will be going along to have their dreams either fulfilled or dashed. Nobody will come out saying "that was OK".

All this crazed expectation reminds me of the quote from Cary Grant. "We all wish we were Cary Grant. Sometimes I wish I was Cary Grant."