Before The Dawn: Kate Bush Tribute Act

Voodoo Rooms

Edinburgh

Fri 13th

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Look, there’s no end of women who think they can sing like Kate Bush. Most of us have a rude awakening the first time we get drunk enough to inflict “Wuthering Heights” on our pals down the karaoke. Kate Bush can hit notes only dogs can hear. Then there’s those long, warbling choruses… Every girlthinks they can sing like Kate Bush, until she does it in public, and is left red of face and heaving for breath like a diver caught short.

The first thing to say about Before The Dawn’s very own Kate Bush, Kerry B, is that she can really sing. Seriously, the woman is pitch perfect, doesn’t miss a beat, and has the improbably massive lung capacity for the job. She’s got the voice down too, close your eyes, and it’s Kate Bush, 100%, a lot of the time.  It’s the big bold songs where she shines: Running Up that Hill, particularly, she nails absolutely. The sexy Kate, the big, bold Bush of Babushka, is where she shines especially, because Kerry B has a lot of presence, like Tina Turner levels of presence. “Giving It All,” she sings, and I seriously doubt that it’s true. Kerry B has snazzy showgirl glitz, and a Vegas belter of a voice underneath the Bush, and on the softer songs especially, has to keep her natural exuberance on a tight rein.

Man With the Child In His Eyes, for example, although beautifully sung, has none of the natural-born kookiness of Kate herself. You can’t fake that stuff, maybe, and besides, Kerry B is much more worldly than otherworldly.  The spell is broken a little when she chides her guitarist, “Oh, shut up Fred.” In a warm Midlands voice, but Kerry herself is so endearing that it’s hard to care. If there is always something distant and inaccessible about Kate Bush, in all her magnificent strangeness, Kerry B is one of us, absolutely, reaching out, making connections. The band’s website promises a Kate who’ll “bond with every member of the audience” and I think this might be literally true. Kerry reaches out with eyes like limpet pools of vulnerability and kindness; gets off the stage and dances a few signature Bush- moves in sync with a gaggle of night-out girls who are delighted as they are sloshed; flirts with/antagonises a young and flummoxed staff member to the delight of the crowd… Whether you like it or not you will be bonded with.

For some this is a joy beyond measure, one chap is in tears, as she pulls him onto the stage and serenades him. It’s clearly a magical moment for the dude, and while his friends look embarrassed both for and by him, he is completely spellbound. Speaking to him in the break, it’s clear that, for him, Kerry B isKate Bush, and he’s just been swept onstage by his long-time fantasy girl.

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The crowd is divided roughly into three kinds of people. Most are men, who have come because they adore the music of Kate, and, almost certainly, Kate herself. These guys look pretty universally transfixed, oblivious to their pints, their mates, and their wives… a couple of whom look less than delighted about it. Kerry has the voice, and enough of the moves and the look to keep these guys happy. A bird being Bush in the hand -and she does take anyone within grabbing distance by the hand- is better than two in the… point is, she is Bush-y enough to keep them more than happy, Then there are the girls whothink they are Kate Bush fans, they know a couple of the hits, and howl along blissfully. They do the funny dances. Most of them are young, or youngish, and super-pissed, they came with their mates, and they take endless picture of each other on their mobile phones. There is another sort of woman here though, the women-women. The actual Kate Bush fans, the ones who don’t even notice anymore that Kate Bush has an unusual voice, an certainly don’t think there’s anything funny about it. These are the fans that understand Kate Bush as they understand Joni Mitchell, or Tori Amos, as a true soul sister, a true see-er of their adult woman lady-ness, a singer of our souls. And those fans don’t always look all out delighted, but those ones are probably impossible to please. They’ll never be happy, because even if Kerry B was impossible to tell from Kate in any given moment, they’d still be choking on their jealousy.

Like most of their audience, the band are no spring chickens, and all the better for it. A merry bunch of long-time session musicians, they give serious bang for buck, and play brilliantly with the audience, slipping little melodic teasers for the big hits into the earlier song intros. Dave Burgess, a superb drummer, seems sometimes a little frustrated by the limitations of the Bush catalogue, which doesn’t really give him many chances to demonstrate what is undoubtedly a great talent… It feels like watching a Cadillac drive in a thirty lane: it’d be nice to see him “open her up, and show us what she can do.” There is a serious amount of gear of stage, guitarist Fred has a whole rack of guitars, and a top hat to match each of “Kate’s” outfit changes. Paul Walsh moves between three keyboards during one song, there is a lot of dedication here, these guys want to get it right, and they do.

Reviewer : Katie Craig

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