Words by Simon Button
Running up that hill of Kate Bush’s remarkable career with Sarah-Louise Young is, like that career itself, as unpredictable as it is sublime.
I went in expecting a pastiche or a piss-take, but instead it’s a celebration of this most singular of singer-songwriters and our hostess doesn’t so much imitate Kate as capture her essence in all its mesmerising otherworldliness.
A note-perfect ‘James And The Cold Gun’ (a deep cut from Bush’s ‘The Kick Inside’ debut long-player) proves that Young could easily have just done a trot through the hits and album tracks and she’s got the moves too - whirling like a dervish for ‘Wow’ and flapping her arms in ‘Babushka’ as if she’d been Kate’s classmate secretly taking notes during a session with the late, great dancer-choreographer Lindsay Kemp.
But this is no Friday-night-at-the-pub tribute show. It is, quite brilliantly, a dissection of Bush’s genius through the eyes and ears of the audience and a rumination on the invisible connection between artist and fan, with real fan testimony built into the script.
There’s audience participation but don’t panic; Sarah-Louise (whose ‘Julie Madly Deeply’ was a love letter to Dame Julie Andrews) has some kind of sixth sense on who to hone in on and who to back away from.
Bringing her show to London’s Museum Of Comedy’s tiny crypt theatre for one night only before a run at the forthcoming Edinburgh Fringe, she sussed the perfect couple to slow-dance on stage to the Bush/Peter Gabriel duet ‘Don’t Give Up’ and a couple of game-for-it strangers to serve as her backing singers.
At one point she got the whole audience to join in with ‘Cloudbusting’, which was as rousing as her take on the almighty ‘Running Up That Hill’, and talked us through Kate’s various dance moves like ‘the champagne cork’ to hilarious effect.
Funnier still were ‘Babushka’ sung in Russian and her version of ‘This Woman’s Work’, where she was a cleaning lady transforming herself into the singer by using her mop-head as a wig.
A bit too short at 60 minutes, it left me wanting more Kate and more Sarah-Louise. Her edict that “It doesn’t matter if you sound like her so long as you love her” perfectly sums up this affectionate salute to a true one-off.
And though it’s billed as An Audience Without Kate Bush the diva is very much present in spirit.
An Evening Without Kate Bush is at the Voodoo Rooms during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from August 3rd-25th. For great deals on tickets and shows click here.
Images by Steve Ullathorne