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Kate Bush Sells Out 22 Shows In Less Than 15 Minutes


So other news. Fans of Kate Bush have been waiting for a chance to see her go on tour. They've been waiting in fact for more than a generation, since 1979. Now the British singer-songwriter is performing her first live shows in 35 years - all shows in London. And Christopher Werth reports that fans are coming from around the world.

CHRISTOPHER WERTH, BYLINE: She was the first woman to top the British charts with a self-written song.



The year was 1978. Kate Bush was 19 years old.


KATE BUSH: (Singing) Out on the wily, windy moors, we'd roll and fall in green.

WERTH: Since then she's hit the U.K. Top 40, 25 times, without touring to support her recordings. And now that she is back on stage, eight of her old albums are back on the charts.


BUSH: (Singing) It's me, your Cathy, I've come home.

WERTH: Kate Bush's impressive vocal range and complex lyrics have earned her a legion of dedicated followers, many of whom are traveling great distances to see her.

DUNCAN REITH: I'm Duncan Reith. I've come from Toronto, Canada.

WERTH: I met Reith and his wife, Beth, under a glowing marquee outside the Hammersmith Apollo theater in London. All 22 shows here sold out in less than 15 minutes, and Reith happened to be among the lucky few to get tickets.

REITH: You never thought this was going to happen, and the fact that it has means you've got to do whatever it takes to be here.

WERTH: Reith says the tickets and the trip have set them back roughly 7,000 U.S. dollars. But he says the only thing on his mind the last few days is one of Kate Bush's most popular songs, a tune called, "Running Up That Hill," which hit the U.S. Top 40 in 1985.


REITH: Everywhere we've gone in London, I've just been hearing this drumbeat over and over and over again.


BUSH: (Singing) It doesn't hurt me. Do you want to feel how it feels?

REITH: The voice, the lyrics - they're intelligent. They're not just the simple, rhyming words. There's obviously so much thought and care that goes into everything. It almost paralyzes me.


BUSH: (Singing) And if I only could, I'd make a deal with God, and I'd get him to swap our places.

WERTH: There is something wildly passionate, yet kind of bashful about a serious Kate Bush fan. Many of those I spoke with, like Marie Hansen and Dorte Kalhaute, who came all the way from Denmark, describe feeling a close, intimate connection with the artist.

MARIE HANSEN: I just always - like, since I was 16, felt like she was really speaking to me personally. I don't know how to explain it, but it's a very, very intense kind of feeling.

WERTH: What would you say is your favorite Kate Bush song?

DORTE KALHAUTE: Oh, I think it's "Breathing."


BUSH: (Singing) Outside gets inside through her skin.

KALHAUTE: It's about what happens if there's atomic war, how you cannot breathe because then you die. It's scary.

WERTH: Kalhaute says every Kate Bush song tells a story. In fact her comeback show, titled "Before The Dawn," is more like musical theater than a rock concert.


UNKNOWN MAN: Turn your phones off during the performance. Thank you and enjoy the show.

WERTH: I couldn't record inside the theater, but I can tell you there was a shipwreck, a lot of moving stage sets and an entire race of fish people. Kate even turns into a bird at one point. Outside I waited to capture reactions from fans.

BECKY ROSS: I don't think I'll ever look at this world the same way again. It was that good.

WERTH: Becky Ross is from England. She traveled just a few hours to be here. She says she's leaving a bit shell-shocked.

ROSS: I was laughing. I was crying. She touches each person individually in that audience, even though there are thousands of us, in a very specific way. And that's the genius of Kate Bush, is the fact that she can reach into each person and make them feel like they're the only person in that whole big hall.

WERTH: So even if Kate Bush never performs in public again, these fans at least are happy. For NPR News, I'm Christopher Werth, London.

INSKEEP: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Christopher Werth