Leo Sayer Newcastle City Hall 23rd April 1976 and 5th October 1977
I saw Leo Sayer on two further occasions before I started to loose faith. The first was on 23rd April 1976 at Newcastle City Hall. Support came from Glyder, a band that featured Dave Bronze on bass, who would go on to play with Eric Clapton and many others. Sayer was becoming more and more popular, both in the UK and the USA, and was starting to transform into a middle of the road family entertainer. He was soon to have a massive No 1 hit which would take his career in a new direction and would enable Leo to front his own TV show on BBC every Friday night, guest on The Muppet Show, sing a duet with Miss Piggy, and appear with his idol, Fred Astaire on TV in Hollywood. There was no new album or single to promote for Leo’s Spring 1976 tour; he released his fourth album “Endless Flight” later in 1976. “Endless Flight” featured two US No. 1 hit singles, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “When I Need You”.
The setlist for the 1976 was something like this: Giving It All Away; I Hear the Laughter; Hold on to My Love; One Man Band; Train; How Much Love; Endless Flight; No Business Like Love Business; You Make Me Feel Like Dancing; When I Need You; Reflections; Long Tall Glasses; The Show Must Go On. No performance of “The Dancer” which will have disappointed me 😦
My final Leo Sayer experience took place at Newcastle City Hall on 5th October 1977. Leo’s 1977 UK tour came after massive No 1 success with the single “When I Need You”. “When I Need You” was written by Albert Hammond and Carole Bayer Sager, and first appeared as the title track of Hammond’s 1976 album. Leo Sayer’s version was a big hit worldwide, reaching No 1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in February 1977. Leo Sayer performed it on the second show of the third season of The Muppet Show, and his transformation to a successful middle of the road artist was complete. Leo’s 1977 tour was hugely popular, and sold out very quickly. A whole new audience were clammering to see Leo perform “When I Need You”. I went along to the concert with a mate, and we both knew that we had lost the singer-songwriter who created the wonderful “Silverbird” album. The tour was to promote Leo’s fifth album “Thunder in My Heart”, which featured the hit single of the same name. Support came from singer-songwriter Aj Webber, who popped up supporting several acts during the ’70s, played the Reading festival and had a great song “Magnus the lonely gnome”, and Blue, who were a soft-rock band fronted by ex-Marmalade Hugh Nicholson, had a great catchy single “Little Jody” and should have had more success. We saw a different, new Leo Sayer at the City Hall that night in 1977. The transformation had been coming about for some time, but it became very apparent at that concert. Gone were the serious, dark, moody early songs, replaced by singalong hits. Leo had become a song and dance man. Just look at the covers of his albums and you can see how his persona has changed. The sold out audience was also different. Gone were the rock fans who had followed him in the early days, replaced by a crowd who came to sing along to “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “When I Need You”.
Thinking back about Leo Sayer, his first album, those early hit singles, and his early tours, I remember how much I enjoyed the guy’s music, and how he was respected as a serious singer-songwriter. I think I’ll dig out my vinyl copy of “Silverbird” and play it one more time. I’ll play “The Dancer” first.
Archive for the ‘Leo Sayer’ Category
Leo Sayer Newcastle City Hall 23rd April 1976 and 5th October 1977
Leo Sayer Newcastle Odeon 16th October 1975
It’s funny how certain songs stick in your mind. I loved “Moonlighting” when it was released in 1975. The catchy tune, the story of star crossed lovers. OK cool it certainly wasn’t but there was just something about the song that hooked me and still does. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. We would call it an “ear worm” today.
“He sees her at the same time every night, at the Mexican discotheque. She gives him French kisses, he gives her French cigarettes. They sit at the same table every time, the lights are low, but their eyes shine, just digging the music from those sweet soul bands. She keeps him outta fights, holds on to his hand. He whispers slowly “Tonight’s the night”. Months of planning so it’s gotta be right. Under the table her bag is bursting at the seams. She made sure to bring everything.
Moonlighting, they’re leaving everything. Moonlighting, they’re losing all their friends.
Moonlighting, it’s the only way. It’s frightening, but it means they’ll stay, together. They’re gonna make it together……….
We’re only ten miles to Gretna, they’re three hundred behind….Moonlighting..” (Leo Sayer, 1975)
Looking at the lyrics it really isn’t cool. No excuses, and I have no way of explaining my taste at the time….
“Moonlighting” was Leo Sayer’s fourth UK top ten single, reaching No 2 in the charts in September 1975. He went out on tour to promote his third album “Another Year”, calling at Newcastle Odeon this time. Support came from Max Merritt and the Meteors who were making a name for themselves on the pub-rock circuit at the time. Max Merritt hailed from New Zealand and record “Slippin’ Away” which reached No. 2 on the Australian singles charts in 1976. During the early to mid 1970s he was based in London playing the pubs of the capital.
Leo still played “The Dancer”, which remained by favourite Leo Sayer song and made the concert worthwhile for me, even if I couldn’t get “Moonlighting” out of my head 🙂
Maybe I shouldn’t feel too guilty in admitting my penchant for the early music of Leo Sayer. Actually thinking about, it was all pretty good, and he was really quite a serious musical artist at the time. His singles and albums were all big successes and reviews of his concerts were positive, and why shouldn’t they have been? After all, the guy put on a great show. Here are some snippets from a review of Leo Sayer’s October 1975 concert at Bournemouth Winter Gardens, written by Harry Doherty for Melody Maker: “musically, Sayer was excellent…..he left nothing to chance and gave a rousing performance of songs from his three albums…..he has a great voice, gutsy one minute, melancholic the next…..he was backed by a very tight four-piece and played a set of his best songs.”
The setlist will have been something like: Giving it all away; Train; In my life; One man band; The kid’s grown up; Only dreaming; Telepath; The last gig of Johnny B Goode; Moonlighting; I will not stop fighting; The Dancer; Long tall glasses; The show must go on.
Leo Sayer Newcastle City Hall 11th September 1974
This might seem a guilty pleasure today, but trust me, it seemed far from it “back in the day”. Leo Sayer was a pretty cool guy, with a hot debut album “Silverbird”. He first came into the public eye as the guy who appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test dressed as a clown (or in a pierrot style costume, to be precise), co-wrote songs (with David Courtney) for Roger Daltrey’s solo lp including the hit single “Giving it All Away”, and was managed by Adam Faith (another cool guy). Leo’s second single “The Show Must Go On” was of course, a massive hit. He also appeared as support act on tours by Roxy Music and Elton John, which I foolishly missed.
From Leo Sayer’s bio on his website: “the B.B.C. offered Leo a slot on their T.V. rock show, “The Old Grey Whistle Test”.Leo came on the show dressed as the Pierrot and such was the reaction to his performance, the entire business noted that a new star was born.”
I had the “Silverbird” album and played in endlessly, my favourite tracks being the rocky “Drop Back”, “Slow Motion” and the very dark, moody, almost scary “Dancer”. Listen to the album, and don’t be put off by Sayer’s later poppier and disco material, it’s classic stuff, he was a great singer-songwriter when he emerged.
I first got to see Leo Sayer when he toured in September 1974, calling at Newcastle City Hall. By then the clown outfit had gone; Leo, his songs and his excellent band were strong enough to stand in their own right. The tour came just before the release of his second album “Just a Boy”. I was hooked, particularly on seeing him perform “Dancer”. Support for the UK tour came from Wally, a progressive rock band from Harrogate, who were presumably named after the festival chant.
Sputnik music says of the “Silverbird” album: “The first – and, in this reviewer’s opinion, only worthwhile – album from British artist Leo Sayer. Few people know that before Leo Sayer became the white-fro sporting King of Disco, he was an artist……”Silverbird” is very dark and depressing at its heart. It’s a concept album, in that the themes of isolation and sadness weave each of the songs together. I would give this album a 4 out of 5. This is a side of Sayer we only see briefly in his follow up album “Just A Boy,” and then it dies, replaced by a bad disco singer who sold out.”