1978: Emerging bleary-eyed out of the silliness of Glam Rock (Bowie’s genius excepted), the generation that reticently followed the Hippie years was were thrown into high energy pogo-mode by extreme punk with all its spikes and clamour with a short, sharp shock. The interim solace of … say Pink Floyd’s glittering Wish You Were Here in 1975 collided so fast with the rebel sounds of Richard Hell, The Sex Pistols and Throbbing Gristle we could hardly catch our breath.
Aspiring hopelessly to cool in leather jackets and safety pins, how great was it, then, in the midst of it all, to encounter a wild-eyed girl from some distant free cloud soaring out of our TV screens with “Wuthering Heights” the most perplexing song of the year – about a romantic Hero – SO not punk, but so SO mesmerising and beautiful.
Since then, Kate Bush has never really let us down, and many a well-meaning soul trying to reinvent or interpret her work (and we all know how many have tried) has succeeded only in embarrassing themselves publicly.
Ehm. Yes. Can I say until now? I think I will. Until now.
At The Grand Social Club in Dublin this week, “Port a’ tSaoil: Tionscadal Kate Bush” took place as part of IMRAM, the Irish language Literature festival.
The show is an amazing feat of daring and delight: Songs sung by the glorious Caitríona O’Leary (Dúlra, Ex), backed by a superb stageful of musicians (Roger Doyle, Adrian Hart, Éamonn Galldubh and Mark Keogh). The songs are those of Kate Bush, and the language is Irish. Translated – or transcreated, as the blurb says – by the renowned poet and scholar Gabriel Rosenstock.
The effect is mesmerizing. The show features on-screen projections of the lyrics with images created by Margaret Lonergan. Lyrics are back projected – and the sound and feel of them, as delivered by Caitriona O’Leary is lush and memorable. In fact, the songs are given a new life – and the traditional instruments used by the musicians bathe the songs in a whole new layer of emotion.
Perhaps the most singular aspect of the project is the singer’s voice, which, as opposed to trying to recreate the unmistakable sound of Kate Bush, projects them anew in the very gorgeous, unmistakable tones of Caitriona O’Leary – velvety, sensual and evocative.
The audience was completely enthralled, and left the venue with the desire to see the show again – certainly it’s something that should be developed and will hopefully come around again soon in a live context. To see more of Caitriona, click here.
All pix © Helena Mulkerns