It is almost an evening without An Evening Without Kate Bush,as technical difficulties in the Voodoo Rooms mean today’s performance is delayed by 25 minutes. However, after an apology in the street from star Sarah-Louise Young herself, the show is underway and off to a mesmerising opening. A body-length veil and red LED are coupled with Kate Bush classic And Dream of Sheep for an eerie and atmospheric beginning.
The show then guides us through various hits – Running Up That Hill, This Woman’s Work, and of, course, Wuthering Heights – and Young’s voice is undeniable: capable of capturing the gentle sadness of Sheep as well as the soaring notes of Wow and Babooshka. The songs, thank goodness, are the winning aspect of the show. Some of the spoken interludes aren’t quite funny enough to live up to this high bar, though. The driving focus of An Evening Without is the notion of superfandom and the uniting power of Bush’s music. At a few points, audio clips of fan interviews are played and Young recounts anecdotes from fanatical audience members she’s met while performing the show. However, this is never explored much further than on a surface level. Rather than offering a real insight into Fish People (the collective name for Bush fans, we’re told), or the career or lyrics of the titular star, the set is instead littered with factoids and trivia. It’s interesting enough and real fans might get a kick out of it, but casual listeners may feel a little lost.
There is a lot of audience interaction to keep momentum going and to break up the songs – not that they need broken up. However, some of this is a little hit and miss with an audience which seems half-filled with walk-ins avoiding the rain. Young deals with it well, though, and forges on confidently, teaching us easy background vocals and refrains that we can sing and wave along to. Sadly, not quite enough buzz is generated to make the finale work, where the microphone is simply turned to the audience in anticipation of a Wuthering Heights singalong which doesn’t really take off.
An Evening Without Kate Bush falters a little due to its pot luck structure and seemingly random segues. However, the overarching feeling is one of success thanks to Young’s musicality and impressive vocal skill. Not to mention, of course, the fantastic source material.