‘Under Pressure’ was performed by Queen twice in 1981, and thereafter became a mainstay of their live set until 1986, their final tour with Freddie Mercury. It was later performed again by the band with singers Paul Rodgers and Adam Lambert.
David Bowie did not perform the song live until the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, held at Wembley Stadium on 20 April 1992. At the event he duetted on ‘Under Pressure’ with Annie Lennox.
‘Under Pressure’ was followed by a performance of ‘All The Young Dudes’ by Bowie, Queen, Moot the Hoople’s Ian Hunter, and Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen. Bowie, Queen and Mick Ronson then performed “Heroes”, before Bowie surprised both audience and musicians by reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
The next time we really spent serious time together was at the rehearsals for the Freddie Tribute Show, which Roger and I put together after we lost Freddie. There was one bizarre moment, when I looked around in the rehearsal room and realised that, on some makeshift chairs, in a line waiting for their rehearsal spots, sat Roger Daltry, Robert Plant, George Michael, and David Bowie.
David, as I remember, was very mellow by then, and made a wonderful contribution to the show, including a literally show-stopping moment when he went down on one knee and recited the Lord’s Prayer. If you look at our faces on the video for that moment, you can see that it was just as big a surprise to us as it was to the audience!!
David’s duet with Annie Lennox that night is legendary. But pretty much everything David did was legendary.
Never predictable, never classifiable, immensely lateral thinking and fearless, he stands as one of Britain’s greatest musical creators. I’m certainly proud to have worked with him.
Daily Mirror, 11 January 2016
Bowie went on to perform ‘Under Pressure’ during his Outside, Earthling, summer 2000 and Reality tours, with bass guitarist Gail Ann Dorsey singing Mercury’s part.
He called me on the telephone and he said, “Do you remember when I did ‘Under Pressure’ with Annie Lennox? And I said yes. And he said, ‘Maybe we’d try it.’ And I said, ‘Well who’s going to play bass while I do the Annie Lennox part?’ And he said: ‘Oh no, you’ll play the bass as well!’ And I thought: ‘Oh my goodness!’
So I went away and practised it for two weeks and it was very difficult; extremely difficult to do, to sing that and play it at the same time.
He had a confidence or some way of seeing the potential in another artist that I didn’t see in myself, so I look back at it and I go, I can’t even believe I did that!