Triumphant return for legend Bush
Kate Bush was greeted by a massive cheer as she returned to the stage last night – 35 years after her last, and only, tour.
The crowd took to their feet as Bush, dressed in black, led a procession of backing singers on stage and launched into Lily.
She was kicking off her Before The Dawn 'tour' – 22 shows at the Hammersmith Apollo, the venue where she effectively retired from live performances after six weeks on the road in 1979.
Singer Lily Allen was among those in the audience in west London, and Madonna was also rumoured to be there, as were David Bowie and the comedian Frank Skinner.
Also present was the illusionist Derren Brown, who tweeted: "Magnificent, beautiful, vulnerable. What a night."
Writer Caitlin Moran wrote on Twitter: "Kate Bush, in black, barefoot, hounds of love, running up that hill, king of the mountain."
DJ Rob da Bank tweeted: "Holy s***. The Kate Bush show is reinventing the pop concert... laughing, crying and wondering what the hell is gonna happen next."
Long-term fan Natalie Russell (44) added: "She is fantastic... the best gig I've ever been to. It's like a West End show."
She was with her sisters Kimberley Trim (33) and Bernadette Russell (46) from London. Bernadette said: "I spent my last money on tickets for this as I was unemployed, but it was worth it. We've been crying all the way through."
Michael Anmuth (46), who came all the way from San Francisco, added: "It's awesome – really, great. It has cost me a lot but it's definitely worth it."
More than 80,000 tickets for the 56-year-old's comeback gigs sold out in less than 15 minutes after they were announced, and there was huge excitement in the run-up to the first night. Tickets have been advertised online for more than £1,000 – and five of Bush's albums have re-entered the Top 100.
Bush, a doctor's daughter from Kent, was just 20 when she completed The Tour Of Life with three dates at what was then called the Hammersmith Odeon.
She had topped the charts with Wuthering Heights the previous year, and now her records are again climbing the charts. Figures from the Official Charts Company showed all nine studio albums have had a sales boost.
Over the years, theories about her absence from the stage have included her perfectionism and the death of one of her tour crew during a show.
But in a rare interview in 2011 to mark a comeback from one of her lengthy recording silences, she explained the absence was down to the exertion of the ordeal.
"It was enormously enjoyable. But physically it was absolutely exhausting," she said.
For periods, she has withdrawn from public to raise her son Bertie. Last year she was awarded a CBE for services to music.