Kate Bush returns to the stage - 35 years after her only tour

Singer Kate Bush returns to the stage tonight - 35 years after her only tour.

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The star will perform live to kick off a 22-show run at the Hammersmith Apollo in west London - the same venue where she effectively retired from live performances after six weeks on the road in 1979.

Tickets for the 56-year-old's comeback gigs sold out in less than 15 minutes after they were announced in March.

The singer has requested that fans do not take photos or film during the shows.

An item posted on her official website said preparations were "going very well indeed".

She added: "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."

The concerts mark the singer's return to the stage more than three decades after her one and only tour.

She was just 20 when she completed The Tour Of Life with three dates at what was then called the Hammersmith Odeon, after topping the charts with Wuthering Heights the previous year, becoming the first woman to go to number one singing one of her own songs.

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 with Mojo magazine in 2011 to mark a comeback from one of her lengthy recording silences, 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. ''I still don't give up hope completely that I'll be able to do some live work, but it's certainly not in the picture at the moment because I just don't quite know how that would work with how my life is now.''

For long periods she has largely withdrawn from public life to bring up her son, Bertie.

Her reappearances have been sporadic. Her 2005 album Aerial was her first release for 12 years, although in recent years her work rate has become a little more prolific, with a collection of reworked songs from earlier albums called The Director's Cut as well as a themed album of songs about snow.

Last year she was awarded a CBE for her services to music.

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