Watch a Towering Orchestral Tribute to Kate Bush: A 40th Anniversary Celebration of Her First Single, “Wuthering Heights”

Some Amer­i­cans like their pop musi­cians to be more acces­si­ble, less the­atri­cal, and eccentric—and gen­er­al­ly more des­per­ate for the approval of their audi­ence. Kate Bush, thank­ful­ly, has nev­er seemed both­ered by this need. She could leave the spot­light when she need­ed to, or leave the music busi­ness alto­geth­er for a time, and yet remain a cre­ative force to be reck­oned with for four decades now. Her lega­cy has per­me­at­ed con­tem­po­rary music since she appeared in 1978, then retired from the stage the fol­low­ing year after her first tour to focus sole­ly on writ­ing, record­ing, and mak­ing short musi­cal films.

Her debut, The Kick Inside, proved that an orig­i­nal new song­writer worth watch­ing had arrived, and she deliv­ered on the promise in ten stu­dio albums and a career she seemed to sum up in the title of “This Woman’s Work,” from 1989’s The Sen­su­al World. It is work she has always done in her own delight­ful­ly odd, pas­sion­ate, eccen­tri­cal­ly British, the­atri­cal, and deft­ly lit­er­ary way, all qual­i­ties that have made her a mas­sive star in the UK and a hero to artists like Tori Amos, Annie Lennox, Grimes, Flo­rence and the Machine, and too many more to name.

Bush’s unusu­al traits also make her a per­fect artist to pay trib­ute to in an orches­tral set­ting, as Sweden’s Gothen­burg Sym­pho­ny has done in the 2018 con­cert also titled “This Woman’s Work” and fea­tur­ing the very-Bush-wor­thy vocal tal­ents of guest singers Jen­nie Abra­ham­son and Malin Dahlström. It’s “a tow­er­ing trib­ute,” the Sym­pho­ny writes, “with hit songs and pure poet­ry in spe­cial arrange­ments by Mar­tin Schaub.” And it arrived to mark a spe­cial moment indeed: the 40th anniver­sary of the release of Bush’s bril­liant­ly strange debut sin­gle “Wuther­ing Heights.” See the full per­for­mance at the top of the post and excerpt­ed songs through­out, includ­ing Abra­ham­son’s cov­er of “This Wom­an’s Work,” above.

Appear­ing in the ghost­ly guise and ethe­re­al­ly high-pitched voice of Cathy Earn­shaw, doomed hero­ine of Emi­ly Brontë’s nov­el, Bush cap­ti­vat­ed mil­lions in two videos that are now absolute clas­sics. She drew on the mime the­atrics of her teacher Lind­say Kemp, who pre­vi­ous­ly men­tored David Bowie, and gave us the indeli­ble image of a woman pos­sessed by weird imag­i­na­tion, uncan­ny musi­cal tal­ent, and some fright­en­ing dance moves. The images and sounds she cre­at­ed in just those 3 and a half min­utes are icon­ic. Or, putting it a lit­tle dif­fer­ent­ly in a short BBC doc­u­men­tary, John Lydon says, “Kate Bush and her grand piano… that’s like John Wayne and his sad­dle… her shrieks and war­bles are beau­ty beyond belief.”

If you came to Bush lat­er in her career, say dur­ing 1985’s huge Hounds of Love, and some­how missed her unbe­liev­able first fine art-rock per­for­mances on film, watch both the white and red dress ver­sions first, then watch the Gothen­burg Symphony’s glow­ing, career-span­ning trib­ute to a woman who “laid the ground­work for [a] gen­er­a­tion of per­form­ers,” as Marc Hirsh writes at NPR. Even though he is an Amer­i­can who does not care for Kate Bush, Hirsh can’t seem to help enu­mer­at­ing the very rea­sons she is so spe­cial to so many, and he fea­tures a num­ber of her videos that demon­strate why she’s an artist her fans love “from the very core of their being.”

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

2009 Kate Bush Doc­u­men­tary Dubs Her “Queen of British Pop”

Kate Bush’s First Ever Tele­vi­sion Appear­ance, Per­form­ing “Kite” & “Wuther­ing Heights” on Ger­man TV (1978)

The Largest Ever Trib­ute to Kate Bush’s “Wuther­ing Heights” Chore­o­graphed by a Flash­mob in Berlin

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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  • scott says:

    it’s nice to see the inter­est, care and intent, but this utter­ly fail’s to do her music jus­tice. It’s kind of like being trapped in a painful car crash in slow motion. Think I’ll go lis­ten to the orig­i­nals.

  • Vox Merus says:

    I’m unfor­tu­nate­ly jump­ing on the “damn, wtf” train a year late. But I hate cov­er bands and cov­er singers. But this chick had me fooled. As an 80’s kid, I used to cry at cer­tain Kate Bush songs. No one’s come close like this chick does. I seri­ous­ly hate every­one so take this for what it’s worth.

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