During her quiet years, there were very few occasions in which the mercurial singer Kate Bush would take to the stage. However, if there was one person able to coax her into the spotlight it was Pink Floyd’s singer and guitarist, the brilliant David Gilmour.
That’s exactly what happened when in 2002 the Pink Floyd founder asked Kate Bush to join him on stage to perform a stunning version of Pink Floyd’s iconic single from The Wall, ‘Comfortably Numb’.
Kate Bush, was widely regarded as one of the leading lights of the British music scene, yet she has only really toured twice in her career and one of them was a residency in London that didn’t technically tour anything. That fact makes every live performance she ever conducted feel like gold dust to her feverish fans and the idea of her joining Gilmour is even more appetising.
The singer experienced an almost non-existent touring schedule after her 1979 dates for ‘The Tour Of Life’, a period which saw Bush travel to 28 different shows across Europe. The singer’s fame grew immensely from the string of lives shows as she put in to practice her incredibly visual performances. It would take 35 years for Bush to go on another run of dates, this time at her 22-night London residency with ‘Before The Dawn’.
It meant that on the few and very rare occasions Bush did perform live on stage, even for one song, it was big news. Such was the case when in 1987, Gilmour and Bush joined to perform ‘Running Up That Hill’. In comparison, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour is a touring maestro, even with his reduced road running. But in 2002, the guitarist staged a series of shows at London’s Royal Festival Hall and on the second night of the run invited Kate Bush to sing on ‘Comfortably Numb’ for an astounded audience.
Gilmour is probably the one person who could have lured Kate Bush onstage. The artist is widely attributed with discovering the 16 years old when Bush first began her songwriting journey. Gilmour was working on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here when he was given a demo tape consisting of 50 songs of a young Kate Bush’s own composition.
“I was intrigued by this strange voice,” Gilmour says in a new interview for the BBC. “I went to her house, met her parents down in Kent. And she played me, gosh, it must have been 40 or 50 songs on tape. And I thought, I should try and do something.”
“I think we had the [EMI] record-company people down at Abbey Road in No. 3,” Gilmour adds. “And I said to them, ‘Do you want to hear something I’ve got?’ They said sure, so we found another room and I played them ‘The Man with a Child in his Eyes.’ And they said, ‘Yep, thank you — we’ll have it.’ [Laughs.] It’s absolutely beautiful, isn’t it? That’s her singing at the age of 16, and having written those extraordinary lyrics.”
Gilmour helped her cut her first professional demo and then used his connections to get her signed to EMI. It was an act that would broker a lifelong friendship.
In the footage below, sadly not a professional recording, we can see Kate Bush take on the vocal duties of Roger Waters on the Floyd classic. It makes for an utterly engaging watch and yet another view on a friendship bound by the sanctity of music.