One of the first conversations I ever had with Amanda was about books and when we kind of touched on music (and I got my Bruce/Bowie/Beatles worship credentials out of the way, she was very patient) we found a reasonably unique common ground - we both loved Kate Bush.
For someone who was a teenager (about 15) when Kate hit big with 'Wuthering Heights' it was impossible not to notice and appreciate Ms Bush at that time. She was a revelation and indeed, KB was still a teenager herself. I certainly didn't expect Amanda to name check KB as one of her favourites. At that time (circa 2004) KB hadn't released an album in something like 11 or 12 years. I was pleasantly surprised by this dark horse, and we had a nice, relatively brief chat about KB, and she immediately went up in my estimation.
I posted an interview on this site (somewhere!) from 2010 and after mentioning some of the concerts I'd been to I was asked was there anyone that I'd still like to see that I hadn't already. It took me a nano-second to say "Kate Bush, end of".
In 2014 Amanda had a milestone birthday and I was looking for a significant birthday present. I was in luck. One morning in Spring I received an email from the KB official fan site. I was a long standing member of the fan club and the mail was telling my unbelieving eyes that Kate was going to be playing a series of concerts in London. The mail confirmed that I would have the opportunity to buy pre sale tickets before general availability. If you don't know anything about the mercurial artiste that she is, at that time Kate Bush hadn't played a live concert (of her own) since 1979. THIRTY FIVE years. Her album releases since the late '90's would require the redefinition of the word sporadic. This announcement was officially a BIG deal. A really, really big deal.
I went online the day of the ticket sales and secured two tickets for centre stage in the eighth row. They weren't cheap but not only was this a dream situation for me, it was for Amanda too. Probably even moreso. We flew over to London from Ireland, and on the night we were close to pinching ourselves as we queued to go in. It was SO exciting, so unreal, and, given the general bon homie of everyone in the queue, it was a lovely 'people' event. There was a wonderful ambience, everyone was smiling, good vibrations abounded.
When we got inside I could barely stop myself from cracking up (emotionally). This was the same venue that David Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust in 1973. That plays big in my wheel house. I've been a Bowie fanatic since I was 10. I walked up to the stage and put my hand on it. It was truly emotional for me (DB was still with the Earth at that time), and now I was about to see Kate Bush on the very same stage? Was this some class of cosmic joke? (KB is supposedly have attended that very same '73 Bowie show)
I started looking for our seats in the eighth row i.e. 'H'. Hmm? Something wasn't right? As I approached I counted eight rows but as we reached the row it was marked 'N'? Turns out, to accommodate a larger stage area, they had removed the first six rows. We were in the second row, centre stage. We couldn't believe it.
It was arguably one of the greatest spectacles I have ever seen. It was joyous. Even more so because I was sharing the moment with Amanda, and I KNEW how much this meant to her. It meant a lot to me too of course, but so did meeting Springsteen, seeing Bowie live so many times, meeting Lou Reed, John Hiatt, Elvis Costello etc. I've had so much elation at meeting my heroes. This was Amanda's first time in the room with her idol. I felt that I'd done something good for someone. The concert was simply amazing. Indescribable - elements of concert, theatre, puppetry, fantasy and magic, just fricken' awesome.
The whole room was filled with love and when KB walked on stage the noise and emotion that greeted her was nothing short of a massive melt down of 3,500 hearts. It was on a different level. Imagine finding out Santa Claus was real and you were invited to the Elves Workshop with a few close friends (everyone in that room that night was a friend). KB has always seemed to be an immensely sound and grounded woman. It's the Irish blood of course :) (her Mum, Hannah was from Waterford).
We sat in absolute awe of this wonderful artiste and could see every eyelash. It's not that we were looking with a critical eye, it was that we wanted to take in every atom of this woman. I'd been listening to her music for over three decades - The Dreaming is still one of my favourite records of all time. Kate Bush is one of the few 'no argument here' choices for car journeys.We l-o-v-e her. We were in the same room.
So from a casual conversation in 2004 (we only knew each other as colleagues at that time) to 2014 when she had been the centre of my world for nearly a decade, to 2018 when Amanda was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. She's still the centre of my world, our life continues to be soundtracked by Kate Bush. Her music and her attitude is a constant inspiration, to me as a songwriter, but in a huge way to Amanda as a healing balm and a source of significant comfort and distraction. We'll get Amanda fixed soon, she has no option, Kate and I will not accept any other result.
Kate Bush. You're owed a big big heartfelt thank you. So, thank you madam.