Singer Kate Bush was greeted by a massive roar as she returned to the stage tonight - 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.
Bush was kicking off her Before The Dawn “tour” - 22 shows at the Hammersmith Apollo in west London, the venue where she effectively retired from live performances after six weeks on the road in 1979.
More than 80,000 tickets for the 56-year-old’s comeback gigs sold out in less than 15 minutes after they were announced in March and there was huge excitement among fans in the run-up to the first night, which has been described “the musical event of the decade”.
Tickets have been advertised online for more than £1,000 - and five of Bush’s albums have re-entered the Top 100.
Bush had asked fans not to take photos or film during the shows.
She said: “We have purposefully chosen an intimate theatre setting rather than a large venue or stadium.
“It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows.
“I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iPhones, iPads or cameras. I know it’s a lot to ask but it would allow us to all share in the experience together.”
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, becoming the first woman to go to number one singing one of her own songs.
Yesterday it was revealed that her records are again climbing the charts.
Over the years, theories about her absence from the stage have included her perfectionism, a fear of flying and the death of one of the tour crew, lighting director Bill Duffield, during a show.
But in a rare interview in 2011 she explained that her years of absence from the touring circuit were simply down to the sheer exertion of the ordeal. Her shows relied heavily on dance and mime.
‘’It was enormously enjoyable. But physically it was absolutely exhausting,’’ she said.
For long periods she has largely withdrawn from public life to bring up her son, Bertie.
Fans and fellow showbusiness personalities last night raved about the erformance.
Lily Allen and Madonna were reported to be in the crowd. DJ Rob da Bank tweeted: “Genius” while illusionist Derren Brown said she was “Magnificent, beautiful, vulnerable”.
Kate’s music is moving back up the charts. Her collection The Whole Story, which hit number one in 1986, is now number eight, followed by 1985’s Hounds Of Love at 14. Her 2011 collection 50 Words For Snow and her 1978 debut The Kick Inside are at 32 and 33 respectively while 1989’s The Sensual World is at Number 41. Further down the charts are The Red Shoes, Never For Eve, The Dreaming, Director’s Cut, Lionheart and Aerial.