The Tour of Life
|Tour by Kate Bush|
Cover of the tour programme.
|Associated album||Lionheart and The Kick Inside|
|Start date||2 April 1979|
|End date||13 May 1979|
|No. of shows||28 in Europe|
|Kate Bush concert chronology|
The Tour of Life (originally known as the "Lionheart Tour", and also officially referred to as the Kate Bush Tour and by outside sources as the "Kate Bush Show" and "Kate Bush: On Tour"). Starting in April 1979, the tour lasted just over one month. Consisting of 24 performances from Bush's first two studio albums The Kick Inside and Lionheart (both 1978), it was acclaimed for its incorporation of mime, magic, and readings during costume changes. The tour is also renowned for its use of new technology; because of Bush's determination to dance as she sang, her stage sound engineer Martin Fisher rigged a wireless headset microphone using a wire clothes hanger, making her the first singer to use such a device on stage. The simple staging also involved rear-screen projection and the accompaniment of two male dancers. The tour was notable for the death of Bush's lighting engineer, Bill Duffield, to whom one of the London shows was dedicated.
The tour was a critical and commercial success, with most dates selling out and additional shows being added due to high demand. Members of the Kate Bush Club were provided with a guaranteed ticket. The BBC filmed a special of the Kate Bush Show entitled Kate Bush: On Tour. The documentary featured the production and staging of the set, and revealed the extent to which Bush was involved. Broadcast in 1979, it did not show any of the full performances. The concert also spawned two physical releases, the extended play On Stage (1979) as well as the home video Live at Hammersmith Odeon (1981). Live at the Hammersmith Odeon was later re-issued in 1994 as a boxed set including an audio CD of the broadcast as well as the video. The name, "Tour of Life", was not coined until after its completion, with all promotional material referring to it simply as the Kate Bush Tour. Neither the EP nor the home video makes any reference to the name.
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The show was divided into four sections, concluding with two encores. It began with playback of whale song, with Bush's shadow projected as she began to dance while the curtain parted to reveal a simple stage with a ramp at its centre. Bush, wearing a blue leotard, sang the first song "Moving." A shadow projection of the band's saxophone player was used next, during "The Saxophone Song". The theatre was then filled with the sound of a heartbeat as red lights flickered while the onstage piano was removed. A large plush oval was rolled onto the stage, from within which Bush sang "Room for the Life" while curled inside as it was rolled around the stage. Dressed in a long coat and trilby hat, Bush was joined by her two male dancers as she performed "Them Heavy People". She then moved to the piano to play "The Man with the Child in His Eyes", while the stage props were removed and the lights faded out. The band then played the as yet unreleased "Egypt", while Bush emerged from the back of the stage wearing an Egyptian costume. An extended introduction to "L'Amour Looks Something Like You" was then played in darkness, while Bush changed into a black leotard and red skirt. While at centre-stage by a tall mirror, a magician emerged to perform with a flying cane. Bush performed "Violin", wearing bat wings and taunted by her two dancers dressed as giant violins. As the stage darkened, Bush's brother, John Carder Bush, was heard reciting a poem, which culminated in a spoken duet with Bush herself. She was then illuminated by a spotlight as she performed "The Kick Inside" at the piano. A black veil was placed over her and the curtains closed.
The second section began with the curtains parting to reveal Bush in a long black dress, perched on top of the piano to perform "In the Warm Room." She then played the piano and sang "Fullhouse", after which the band played an extended introduction to "Strange Phenomena" as Bush changed into a magician's top hat and tails, while her dancers, now dressed as space men, performed with her. The magician then reappeared with his cane; he walked to the back of the stage holding a black cloth, which then dropped to reveal Bush, now wearing a veil, behind it. She danced with a single male dancer to a live rehearsal recording of "Hammer Horror", after which a chant commenced, leading into "Kashka from Baghdad", performed at the piano. Traffic noise was played to the audience while the stage was fitted with a street theme, including fences which the dancers illuminated with torches. A spotlight was switched on and Bush sang and danced to "Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake", bringing the second section to a close.
The third section began with the curtain opening on Bush, now wearing a purple dress, at the edge of the ramp which had been lifted to replicate a pier, to perform "Wow." "Coffee Homeground" began as a prisoner cell set was assembled; Bush sang on a centre-stage chair, as corpses fell out of the walls. Another spoken word poem was recited by Bush's brother as the intro to "Symphony in Blue", fused with "Gymnopédie 1" by Erik Satie was played. Bush, now dressed in a blue leotard covered by a leather jacket, performed while waving to the audience as images of a cloudy sky fell on the piano and the stage. Bush, now covered in party streamers refused a floating glass of champagne from the magician and performed "Feel It" at the piano. As the song came to an end, thunder was heard while Bush changed; she emerged with her leotard now fitted with wings, to perform "Kite", flying off the stage at the end of the song. Bush then appeared in Wild West attire and brandishing a shotgun, dancing and singing to "James and the Cold Gun". Her dancers, emerging from the wings, were shot by Bush as the song ended and the curtain closed.
For the show's first encore, Bush and her dancers emerged wearing World War II bomber attire as a parachute was spread across the stage. She sat to sing "Oh England My Lionheart", and the curtain closed again. There was a short interval before the curtains re-opened upon the stage covered in dry ice fog and illuminated in red, with a forest backdrop. As the music to "Wuthering Heights" began, Bush sprang up through the fog, costumed as the ghost of Catherine Earnshaw from Emily Brontë's novel of the same name. She performed the dance routine from the song's music video, before retreating to the top of the ramp and exiting the stage as the curtain closed.
- "The Saxophone Song"
- "Room for the Life"
- "Them Heavy People"
- "The Man with the Child in His Eyes"
- "L'Amour Looks Something Like You"
- "The Kick Inside"
- John Carder Bush poetry reading
- "In the Warm Room"
- "Strange Phenomena"
- "Hammer Horror" (not performed live)
- "Kashka From Baghdad"
- "Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake"
- "Coffee Homeground" (with extended instrumental introduction)
- "In Search of Peter Pan"
- John Carder Bush poetry reading
- "Symphony in Blue" (contains elements of "Gymnopédie 1" by Erik Satie)
- "Feel It" (with instrumental introduction)
- "James and the Cold Gun"
- Encore 1
- "Oh England My Lionheart"
- Encore 2
- "Fullhouse" was not performed on the London Hammersmith Odeon dates.
- Kate Bush – vocals (plus occasional piano/keyboards)
- Paddy Bush – mandolin, background vocals, various instruments
- Brian Bath – electric guitar, acoustic mandolin, background vocals
- Alan Murphy – electric guitar, whistles
- Kevin McAlea – piano, keyboards, saxophone, 12-string guitar
- Ben Barson – synthesizer, acoustic guitar
- Del Palmer – bass guitar
- Preston Heyman – drums
- Liz Pearson – background vocals
- Glenys Groves – background vocals
- Kate Bush's only tour: pop concert or disappearing act? by Graeme Thomson for The Guardian 13 May 2010
- Kate Bush Encyclopedia: tour of Life 1 February 2016