Stateside Kate Bush fans know well that the opportunity to see the British legend perform live here is probably never going to happen. Thankfully, San Diego-based Baby Bushka provides the next-best thing — a tribute act (“The Kate Bush dance party of your dreams,” in the group’s words) that not only faithfully brings Bush’s music to sonic life, but adds a consistently entertaining stage show, as well. Judging from Baby Bushka’s May 4 concert at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Oregon, this act is in for great things.
The eight-woman ensemble is rich with talent, with each member getting at least one opportunity for a turn on lead vocals, and musicians trading off instruments at different times. The full-band arrangements consisted mostly of either a main keyboard and synthesizer (Nina Deering AKA Dark Bush) and guitar or a second keyboard (Shelbi Bennett AKA Buffalo Bush), accompanied by violin (Batya MacAdam-Somer AKA Bad Bush), drums (Leah Bowden AKA Heavy Bush), and bass guitar (Dani Bell AKA Curly Bush).
Natasha Kozaily (AKA Boss Bush) tackled the majority of lead vocals and did so beautifully, including on such challenging early-career Kate Bush histrionic fare as “Wuthering Heights” and “Wow” (the latter song being the concert opener). Nancy Ross (AKA Fancy Bush) and Lexi Pulido (AKA Hella Bush) provided the harmony vocals and joined the alternating lead vocalists with dance routines. Each vocalist brought her own unique style to the front. Some sounded quite like Kate herself, while others went for different interpretations. Happily, all cases worked, and were absolute crowd pleasers.
The selection of songs was impressive, with several classics on board, such as the aforementioned numbers and singles such as “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God),” “Army Dreamers,” “Sat in Your Lap,” “Babooshka,” and “Hounds of Love.” This reviewer was pleasantly surprised when Baby Bushka took a deep dive into Bush’s catalog and broke into the B-side track “Ran Tan Waltz.” “Cloudbusting” closed the show, with every member taking a turn on lead vocals. The choreography was marvelous, with Boss, Fancy, and Hella at times following Bush’s live performance videos, and at other times adding their own touches to the proceedings.
The audience was stunned near the end of the show when Baby Bushka announced that this was only the group’s fourth performance. The members performed as if it were a far more seasoned unit than that, which should come as no surprise on learning the impressive credentials that they bring, including some professional performers since childhood, music theater experience, professional music teachers, rock and jazz band projects, and so on.
For more information about Baby Bushka, including the group’s upcoming United Kingdom tour dates, visit the official website at http://www.ilovebabybushka.com/ or the official Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ilovebabybushka.