Kate Bush – Live at The Manchester Apollo – April 10, 1979 – Live And Loud.com – Flip Martian Collection
Kate Bush, live at The Manchester Apollo. Recorded either April 10th or 11, 1979 and preserved for posterity by Flip Martian and his truly amazing Live And Loud website (big thanks again!). Later known as The Tour Of Life, it lasted a little over a month (going from April 2nd to May May 14, 1979). The final show, at the Hammersmith Odeon in London was filmed and portions were broadcast as well as a video of the full concert which was issued in 1981. But not this one. This recording most likely comes via the Sound crew and is relatively early-on in the tour.
After Bush turned down an opportunity to perform as a supporting act for Fleetwood Mac, production for the tour began in December 1978. Bush was said to be involved in almost every aspect of the show’s design, rehearsals, and performances. The show was choreographed by Bush and Anthony Van Laast, in collaboration with dancers Stewart Avon Arnold and Gary Hurst. Dance rehearsals took place at The Place during mornings leading up to the tour, before afternoon vocal and band rehearsals in Greenwich. Production rehearsals featuring all personnel and audiovisual technology took place at Rainbow Theatre in London. Beginning on 26 March and finishing on 29 March 1978.
The tour was known for its innovative use of visual projections, audio and microphone technology, and narrative storyline. Bush aimed for the tour to offer a theatrical experience to contrast the performances of other contemporary rock musicians, and sought to combine “music, dance, poetry, mime, burlesque, magic and theatre.” The performance was divided into four sections, concluding with two encores, and incorporated seventeen costume changes and involved thirteen on-stage personnel. Magician Simon Drake performed throughout the show. The stage itself was constructed with a retractable ramp at its centre, with a “large ribbed screen – intended to represent an egg – on to which slides and film footage could be projected”. Eight “follow spot” moving lights tracked the musicians and performers on stage. Since the tour, Bush has become known as the first artist to use a cordless microphone headset, which allowed her to move and dance freely while singing live. The headset prototype was constructed using a coathanger and radio microphone. Ultimately, each night of the tour sold out.
The tour opened on 3 April 1979 in Liverpool at the Liverpool Empire, following a warm-up gig in Poole on 2 April 1979. Following the Poole show, the tour’s lighting engineer Bill Duffield was killed after falling from a stage and seating structure at the concert venue. The first of the final three London dates on 12 May 1979 was performed as a benefit concert for the family of Duffield, and featured an altered setlist and performances by Peter Gabriel and Steve Harley. Bush released the song “Blow Away (For Bill)”, dedicated to Duffield, on her third studio album Never for Ever (1980). In 1994, Bush described the physical exhaustion she experienced as a result of touring, a comment which she echoed in 2011. Bush did not tour again until 2014’s Before the Dawn, a concert residency at London’s Hammersmith Apollo.
In case you missed the 1979 tour, here’s an opportunity to catch up. If you were there, here’s a chance to revisit it.
Enjoy it either way.