Kate Bush returns to stage after 35 years

An undated handout picture released by record label Fish People shows British singer Kate Bush who is set to return to the stage after 35 years
An undated handout picture released by record label Fish People shows British singer Kate Bush who is set to return to the stage after 35 years (AFP Photo/Trevor Leighton)

London (AFP) - Ecstatic fans welcomed British pop singer Kate Bush back to the stage for her first show for 35 years, in the same venue as her only previous tour.

The crowd stood and roared with approval as Bush, dressed in black, entered the stage with her back-up singers and opened with her 1993 song "Lily".

Over 80,000 tickets for the 56-year-old's 22 shows in the "Before the Dawn" tour at the Hammersmith Apollo, where Bush last performed in 1979, sold out in 15 minutes when they went on sale in March as fans clamoured to be part of history.

Second-hand tickets have been advertised online for over £1,000 ($1,650).

The theatrical show included video, a helicopter and a sea rescue scene, and ranged over the three decades of Bush's career with songs such as "Hounds of Love", "Oh England My Lionheart" and "Babooshka", before ending on "The Man with the Child in His Eyes".

"There was undoubtedly only one artist who would have had the bloody mindedness, nerve and beautifully skewed imagination to pull it off," wrote the Mirror.

The performance made the front page of many of Britain's newspapers, with the Daily Mail describing it as a "triumphant return" and the Guardian calling it "unbelievable".

Eleven of her albums have risen into this week's Top 100 albums chart for sales, with her greatest hits collection "The Whole Story" reaching number eight, according to OfficialCharts.com.

Her most recent release -- "50 Words Of Snow" -- also saw the biggest week on week percentage increase of 810 percent and has sold 155,000 copies so far, the charts company said.

Bush had asked the audience in advance not to use phones or cameras during the performance, and the rule was strictly enforced.

Bush burst onto the scene in 1978 at the age of 19, when her debut single "Wuthering Heights" went to the top of Britain's singles chart and stayed there for four weeks.

The song's distinctive soprano vocals and ethereal video divided audiences, but Bush cemented her reputation as one of pop's true innovators with follow-up singles such as "Running Up That Hill".

Artists as diverse as Tupac Shakur, Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten, Bjork and Coldplay have all cited Bush as an influence.

Her 2011 album "50 Words for Snow" was the last of 10 album releases, but her only tour took place in April and May of 1979.

Despite the success of the "Tour of Life", a theatrical spectacle involving magicians, poetry and 17 different costume changes, it would take her three decades to go back on tour.

Various theories were put forward to explain her reluctance to play live including a lack of artistic control, a chronic fear of flying and the anguish caused by the death of a roadie during one of her 1979 shows.

But she told the BBC in 2011 that it was the physical strain of her energetic shows which had put her off.

Three and a half decades later, the ambitious staging and a voice untouched by time meant "the long wait felt worth it", the Independent wrote.

"It's quite stunning, undoubtedly the most ambitious, and genuinely moving, piece of theatrical pop ever seen on a British stage."