I wouldn’t call myself a Kate Bush fan, one of the shoal of ‘fish people’ who revere here, yet her songs have soundtracked my formative years. So she’s always been there in spirit.
Sarah-Louise Young, a fellow 70s baby with boundless energy, performs but this is no mere imitation or hagiography – the singing is superb, but that is a tribute to this performer as well as to Bush.
The setlist is thoughtfully crafted from Hounds of Love through Babushka, Rubberband Girl, This Woman’s Work, Cloudbusting, Don‘t Give Up (just the Kate bits), Army Dreamers, The Man With The Child In His Eyes, and ending with a frenetic Running Up That Hill and a surprisingly emotional Wuthering Heights, crowd-led.
There are anecdotes about Young’s life as a Bush fan, and others around the world who have connected since the original Edinburgh Fringe show in 2019; connected online through YouTube comments and fan sites, across the miles and through restrictions.
Audience participation is strong throughout, with some stage bits as well as invitations to join in with tunes you know. Whether clad in red unitard, flouncy frock, or tight trenchcoat, Young captures a range of Bush’s iconic looks.
There is humour, too, in being in a space, elbow to elbow with others in an atmosphere that buzzes as soon as Young takes the stage with a red light in her palm, illuminating her face.
The sound design of live vocals and backing tracks mixes perfectly; a head mic for Young with an old school mic to pick up audience vocals dredged up ftom who knows where (a hairbrush sung into before a mirror, a first dance at a wedding?).
Delayed by the pandemic, and following hard-upin Young’s sister show Julie Madly Deeply (Julie Andrews fandom, at the Park Theatre), An Evening Without Kate Bush leaves the singer as enigmatic as ever.
Directed and co-written by Russell Lucas, this show is tightly planned and deliciously delivered. It isn’t about Kate Bush – one audience member even claimed he was there to avoid her – but is about all of us.
Exemplary and brilliant. Grab a ticket here while you can: An Evening Without Kate Bush is now playing at Soho Downstairs until 26 February.
Image credits: Clive Holland / James Millar