As anyone in London or, for that matter, just about anyone in the world who reads entertainment news would know, the legendary cult British pop singer, Kate Bush is currently undertaking a record-breaking run of live concerts at the Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith. The reclusive Bush has not given a live performance in over thirty five years since her last gig, also at the Hammersmith Apollo or as it was then known Hammersmith Odeon, in 1979, so understandably the buzz has been extraordinary. Tickets for the 22-show “season” sold out in barely fifteen minutes when they went on sale in March and there has been a huge groundswell of renewed interest in the singer’s recorded backlog, with Bush setting new records as the first female artist in UK history to have eight albums in the top 40 at the same time.
Here in the Parallel Julieverse, we adore Kate Bush…not in quite the same borderline-obsessive way we do Julie, of course, but adore her, nevertheless…and these two, seemingly disparate, musical artistes share a few interesting commonalities. For a start, there are the voices. Though she has never possessed Julie’s purity of tone and, God knows, certainly not her crystalline diction—has anyone honestly ever understood the words to “Wuthering Heights" without recourse to a lyrics sheet?—Kate Bush has an extraordinary voice with an impressive range, claimed by some sources to match Julie’s four octaves, and was especially noted in her earlier career for her extremely high, bird-like soprano.
Like Julie, Bush sires from a southern English, middle class family and sports many of the hallmarks of that particular cultural background: RP Estuary accent, emotional restraint, fierce domestic privacy and general bourgeois “niceness”. Indeed, Ron Moy (2007) argues that Bush is “one of the most resonant exemplars of Englishness in popular music” (58), placing her as part of, among other things, the cultural lineage of the English pastoral tradition of Handel, Elgar, Delius and Butterworth (61) that was equally crucial to Julie’s formative musical training. Also like Julie, Bush started her career at an early age and was catapulted to stardom at just 19, the same age as Julie’s star-making turn in The Boy Friend, when her debut album, The Kick Inside, was released to rave reviews and platinum sales.
And if all that weren’t striking enough, both performers made highly publicised comebacks after a 35 year absence from the stage—in Julie’s case, it was her return to Broadway in Victor/Victoria in 1995…we’ll just conveniently gloss over the fact that, where Julie’s return met with a warm but muted critical response, reviewers have been outdoing each other in the superlatives for Bush’s comeback. And, wait for it, barely three months before Kate Bush hit the Eventim Apollo stage, Julie was treading those very same boards with her two show London stint in An Evening with Julie Andrews, on 30-31 May!
Mere coincidences…or is it, as we fancy here in the Parallel Julieverse, some kind of, hitherto unrecognised, celestial connection? As if the cosmos itself were trying to impart that these two singing goddesses were secretly destined to have been paired. Well, ye gods of the musical heavens, we hear your call and so here they are, together at last: Julie and Kate…and it’s supercalifragilis-babooshka-ya-ya!
Moy, Ron. Kate Bush and Hounds of Love. London: Ashgate, 2007.
Thomson, Graeme. Under the Ivy: The Life and Music of Kate Bush. London: Omnibus Press, 2012.