WOW: A Celebration of the Music and Artistry of Kate Bush @ Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
Kate Bush, a singer famous for her love of privacy and seclusion, only ever toured once in 1979, so it is understandable that people will pay good money to see musicians attempt to capture the magic of her records in a live setting. The band behind WOW: A Celebration of the Music and Artistry of Kate Bush are able to do just that, with a little help from some special effects and a ‘troupe’ of dancers.
Maaike Breijman, the Kate of the show, is an outstanding tribute artist whose impressive attention to detail means that even her hand gestures and facial expressions are spot on, let alone the dancing prowess and huge vocal range required for the part. Seeing her act out the story lines of lesser known tracks such as James And The Cold Gun and The Wedding List (with the help of two male dancers) really made the unique creativity of Kate’s peculiar brand of pop come alive.
The band, most of whom are Liverpool-based musicians, managed to make their relatively small ensemble of guitar, bass, drums, keys and backing vocals sound huge, which ensured that nothing was lost in the transition from record to stage. Breijman herself created a beautiful contrast to their full sound in the second half, when she performed The Man With The Child In His Eyes and a haunting This Woman’s Work at a grand piano.
The visual aspect of the show was clearly heavily influenced by Kate’s (often eccentric) music videos, so Breijman danced with a double bass as a partner for Babooshka, fought with men in trilbies for Them Heavy People and during Cloudbusting actually operated a rain-making machine that was pushed onstage. Indeed, the most spectacular moment of the night came when Breijman, re-enacting the video, performed Breathing from within a large, transparent sphere. The apocalyptic lyrics about a foetus in a nuclear fallout zone were intensified considerably when delivered by a woman lying in a plastic ‘womb’.
Perhaps inevitably, they finished with the classic Wuthering Heights, but as Wow have successfully demonstrated, there is much more to Kate Bush’s body of work than a woman in a white dress singing about Heathcliff.