Belfast Telegraph

Why Kate Bush is a much better role model for teen girls than Miley Cyrus

By Jane Graham

Rarely has a British rock show been so anticipated. That it was performed by a 56-year-old woman performing high concept music theatre while eschewing her biggest hits, flies in the face of every perceived wisdom about rock'n'roll.

You've got to hand it to Kate Bush – in an era defined by boob and bum flaunting sex kittens and middle-aged men thrusting their groins at teenage girls, she's got the power.

I've never been a big Kate Bush fan. Though the brilliance of Wuthering Heights and a few other sparkling stones in her repertoire is unarguable, her obsessive, almost needy, relationship with the natural world – so many songs about the wonders of foliage and baby foxes, such a lot of hippie-dippie Wickermanny prancing around open fires summoning up the goddess of fire – even her shrubbery name; it was all a bit Spinal Tap Stonehenge for me. I preferred the sharp wit of Elvis Costello. The contrived naivete and lack of humour in Bush's persona turned me off.

In retrospect, particularly in the light of her comeback concerts in London this week, I have to concede certain points.

The childishness is still there; but bearing in mind we're three decades on from her musical arrival, it's unlikely it's as contrived as it originally seemed. In fact, Bush might be the real Peter Pan of Pop. In her onstage drama she repeatedly presents herself as a fragile dependent abandoned by her appointed protector, forever crying for help. And while she's jettisoned the Wuthering Heights and Babooshkas, she's still drawn to songs like Cloudbusting, about children on the cusp of the disappointment of adulthood.

When it was released in 1985, Rolling Stone said of the Hounds of Love album – which she performed almost in its entirety in her shows this week – "Her vision will seem silly to those who believe children should be seen and not heard". As a 27-year-old she was artistically infantile, but in the most interesting, curious way. Thirty years on, she seems unchanged.

Assuming that the wild-eyed child-fixated figure was for real then, the authentic mighty Bush becomes a fascinating figure in the rock pantheon. Social media went into meltdown when the 22 Hammersmith gigs were announced earlier this year, and the run sold out in 15 minutes. How remarkable, that a middle aged publicity-shy woman without swagger or swank should hold such sway.

And while her natural disposition is a whispery fluttery one, Bush is not afraid of coming on like a no-nonsense mum when needs must. It's unheard of for an audience to put aside their smartphones during a show these days, but after she politely but firmly requested that that her audience maintained direct commination with her onstage, the house adhered. As, you feel confident, she knew they would.

I'm still not a convert to the earth mother thing – though I no longer write it off a mere schtick – but I can't think of many better role models for adolescent girls than Bush. Her unapologetic eccentricity, celebration of creative freedom, and, best of all, knowledge of and faith in her ostensibly weird self, is inspiring and empowering.

Like Miley Cyrus, she was signed to a major label in her teens, but unlike Cyrus (and this might not be Miley's fault) she has always appeared to be in complete control of what she did and how she was presented.

When she used her sexuality it felt like she was celebrating it, rather than employing it as a means of persuasion, pleading or protest. Listen and learn kids. And if you must, dance around a toadstool. Though even Kate Bush can't make that look cool.

He ain't heavy, he's Steen's brother

Much as I love Robert Downey Jnr, this week the battle for 'Greatest Ironman in History' was won, indisputably and perhaps forever, by an unheard of Danish chap called Steen Mondrup. Though perhaps that title should be Greatest IronMEN, as Steen completed the gruelling swimming/cycling/running challenge alongside his twin, Peder, who has cerebral palsy.

Steen pulled Peder in a rubber boat for 3.8km, the two rode a double bicycle, then Steen pushed his brother's wheelchair over the finish line. It took them over 15 hours, and left millions around the world saluting a gobsmacking display of fraternal love.

Boris as PM? What a laugh that would be

I do enjoy the kerazy antics of Mayor Boris the Clown. Remember when he got caught half way along a zipwire, and dangled in mid-air with all the dignity of a Simon Cowell T-shirt? Hilarious. And when he called table tennis "wiff waff" at the Olympics – how we chortled at his characterful ways, straight out of Dickens or The Bash Street Kids.

This week Boris suggested that anyone returning from Iraq without proof they weren't a murderous terrorist should be assumed to be a murderous terrorist and arrested. Guilty until proven innocent, he winked.

Let's hope this Minister for Mirth is leading the country after the next election!

Belfast Telegraph


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