LEO SAYER ON TALKS ON HIS AUSTRALIAN TOUR WITH LEGEND SINGER LULU
The latter half of this year will see music icons Leo Sayer and Lulu join forces in a show like no other. In this interview, Sayer speaks of the excitement of touring with his good friend.
Can you tell me about the tour you’re going on with Lulu in June and July this year?
It was an idea of the promotors here in Australia. I think they talked to Lulu and were interested in doing something. Basically it became, “Why don’t we do it with Leo?” I met with Lulu late last year when I went to London. We got on absolutely great (as we always do, we’ve known each other for years) and we talked about [how] this idea of us performing together was perfect – you never know what’s going to happen in life.
So, she jumped on stage with me in London, when I did the concert there, and it was great. I think it’s going to be a fantastic tour. We get on great: we’re both the same height, we’re both the same age, we’ve both got the same energy, so it’s kinda good.
How will it differ from your usual concerts?
Both of us have to leave some songs out of course, because I think if I put all my hits in there, we’d be there for three days. I’m not being flash; it’s just that there are a lot of songs to do. It’s not our usual show, not individually.
I think the cream will come when we’re “duet-ing” some of our biggest hits together and I think that will be a nice angle – it will be something different, I think, for people to see. With her material and my material, it’s stuffed full of good songs and hits.
What do you want people to get out of attending one of these shows?
Enjoyment! Entertainment! And also seeing the real artist doing songs, because there’s so many tribute and cover bands, it seems to me. We seem to be full of that [in] Australia. Every time you look at the resort hotels and gigs and RSLs, it’s all tribute acts – there [are] very few original acts. So us guys, at our age (coming up to 68) and still singing as good as ever, I think that’s a selling point in itself.
Do you have any plans to take the tour to your international fans?
Who knows! I’ve already had an enquiry about [going to] Malaysia, which is interesting because there’s a lot of ex-pats. I think, certainly with Lulu and probably me as well, people would have to know the songs from the early days.
A lot of places in the world know both of us so wherever that’s relevant, there will be an audience. It’d be lovely to see it happen in England. There’s no news about that yet but who knows? Maybe we can carry on. Also we have to see how the tour goes and how big this goes.
The pre-sales look good anyway, and also Lulu has never done any concerts in Australia to the general public before – I’m enjoying introducing her to people here. That can be a nice factor that helps it sell. Let’s see how we go.
As you said, this is Lulu’s first time in Australia. Are there any favourite places you want to show her while on tour?
Oh God, if we’ve got time! The problem is, when you’re on tour, we’re both really into the music. We have to take it as it comes. There’s so much intensity that goes into the show. I’m determined that it’s going to be fantastic. There’ll be no slacking off from sound checks; we have to be there every moment.
That’s the problem when you’re on tour, you don’t really get a chance to see much but hopefully I’ll be enjoying showing her around Perth and places like [Brisbane], you know, places that a lot of the visitors don’t get to see the first time. I wish we were going to Ayers Rock, Alice Springs and Tasmania. Now you’re talking (laughs). Unfortunately, though, not yet.
Do you have any plans to record an album to commemorate the tour?
Not that I’ve heard of, no, but as I say, it’s all one step at a time. You put up an idea and people react to it. It’s pretty early days yet – we’re not touring until June or July so there’s a lot of time for things to be discussed.
What is it you enjoy most about being on tour?
I love being on tour … It’s just a wonderful energy when you’re out there on the road [with] a great band. I do it all the time and you’re almost living an alternative lifestyle. You see people walking past in business suits going to work for someone else and you think how lucky you are working for yourself.
I live to write songs – I’m working in the studio on some new stuff which could be an album. It’s good to stay motivated. I can’t believe I’m as motivated as I was in 1970, working on my first record. Somehow, time stands still.
When you go on stage, do you still get nervous?
Not really. Although with this tour, the first few nights we’ll have a lot to remember. I’m singing some different songs, you know, Lulu’s songs with her and she’s singing some of my songs so we’ll be helping each other through. I guess there will be some first night nerves, yeah.
Last year you released Restless Years – your first album of new material in six years. How do you keep your music so relevant?
Well, it’s an ever-changing planet at the moment, isn’t it? When you look at Donald Trump, and the lock-out laws in Sydney. I think musicians and songwriters have a job to do these days. We’ve got to keep people on the straight and narrow. There [are] a lot of things that aren’t very nice in the world at the moment [and] we don’t feel like we’re in control.
We do feel like things are taken out of our hands and there’s a lot of silliness going around. I think that keeping yourself plugged in to what’s happening in the world will always keep you relevant. We’re very blessed at seeing the world in a different way, through music, and we’ve got to keep that special kind of relationship with the world [that] we have going. I think we can do that by telling stories in our songs, and helping and educating people that there must be a better way.
What are some of your favourite tracks from your back catalogue?
I love them all! I’m not picky (laughs).
Are there any of Lulu’s that you’re really looking forward to performing?
I’m really looking forward to doing Shout with her. Johnny O’Keefe had the big hit with it here [in Australia]. But the way she does it, she was singing it when she was 15 and that was the song she broke out [with]. It’s so exciting. I’m just enjoying standing back and watching her go for it – that’s what she does. The two of us, it’s going to be wild.
Hopefully we will be doing one [of mine] called Dancing the Night Away. I never get a chance to do [it] because it needs too many instruments. This time, we’ve got a bigger band so it could be ideal to put that song in, [it’s] a really nice love song and I haven’t sung it for years. I thought, Damn! This is a good opportunity to put that in.
We’re gunna have quite a big line-up of backing singers and everything, larger than when I go on the road with my band. I’m always thinking economically [of] what could be done. Now it’s a chance to really go for it.
What inspires you when you’re writing new music?
Everything: the planet, the world, the fact that we lived in wonderful times in the ‘60s and ‘70s. You just want to share with people what that was like because they don’t have the same freedoms that we had. Translating that and transmitting that to people. It’s important to keep that alive.
Leo Sayer and Lulu will tour Australia on the following dates:
Thursday, 23 June 2016 – State Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday, 24 June 2016 – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday, 29 June 2016 – Festival Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Thursday, 30 June 2016 – QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, Qld
Sunday, 3 July 2016 – Concert Hall, Perth, WA
For more information or to reserve your tickets, visit: www.leoandluluinconcert.com
.Interview by Jackie Smith