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Fans hope genius Kate can hit the heights once again

In a world overrun with talent contest wannabes and outright chancers it's hard to imagine just how someone like Kate Bush would even get a look in the door these days. Mentored by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour when he heard a demo tape by the then 15-year-old singer-songwriter, he persuaded EMI to sign and develop her talents, leading to a debut album, The Kick Inside and worldwide No 1 hit single Wuthering Heights three years later.

The impact of the young Kate Bush was astonishing. Here was a woman with what appeared to be a fully developed artistic vision, with a voice capable of swooping through four octaves and also one who had an innate grasp of how to use the relatively new medium of video.

Part of EMI's development period saw her train under dance tutor Lindsay Kemp (who'd also worked with David Bowie in the latter's early days) and the balletic moves she utilised in the promo film for Wuthering Heights were breathtaking. The follow-up single, The Man with the Child in His Eyes, was, if anything, even better and to think that this marvellously melodic but melancholy song was penned by someone in their mid-teens is truly remarkable.

Mimed

Never afraid of experimentation, Bush pioneered the use of radio microphones on her only tour, 1979's Tour of Life, even advising punters attending those concerts that 'four songs will be mimed due to technical considerations', a move which seems almost quaint in these days of pre-recorded, auto-tuned madness. That she's never toured since only increased her allure and mystique, her aura as an artist increased by experimental nature and musical adventures of albums such as Hounds of Love (her 1985 masterpiece), The Sensual World and The Red Shoes.

Well, all that came to an end earlier this year with the news that she would, in fact, be returning to the stage, albeit on her own terms, which is what you'd only expect really. In effect , Kate Bush will be playing a month-long residency at London's Hammersmith Apollo, the venue where she last performed a solo show, with the tickets being snapped up instantly and now selling for what experts refer to as 'mad money' on sites.

My congratulations to you if you managed to bag one because this is one of the most eagerly-awaited returns to the stage by a major artist that I can recall. Still, for the rest of us we can be reminded of her genius when BBC4 shows The Kate Bush Story at 9pm on Friday.

> George Byrne