Leo Sayer at Ulster Hall
His biggest hits may reside in the 1970s but four decades on Leo Sayer can still make an audience feel like dancing, as he proved at the Ulster Hall on Saturday night.
I’m not sure what was in the flask he drank from throughout the concert but it certainly kept him vocally and physically buoyed throughout a demanding two and a half hour set.
Now aged 65, Leo was in Belfast as part of his Silverbird tour celebrating 40 years in the business. The tour brings together all the hits which, for those who want a more permanent reminder, have recently been collected in the anniversary boxset ‘Just a Box - the Studio Recordings’.
The vibe at Saturday’s gig couldn’t have been more different to that of contemporaries the Boomtown Rats who played the same venue a couple of weeks ago - but then I can’t imagine there was ever much of a crossover in terms of their fanbase.
While the Rats were standing room only (downstairs anyway) with a much frequented bar helping to fuel the enthusiasm of the largely 40-something audience, Leo Sayer was a much more sedate, seated affair with a strict ‘no alcohol’ policy in the auditorium which was filled, almost to capacity, by an audience aged largely in their 50s and 60s.
Thus Saturday’s focus was very much on Leo Sayer and the self-penned music that once made him one of the UK’s biggest recording stars and which, even after all these years, still packs an emotive punch.
Leo was in remarkably fine voice and though he had some quibbles in the first half about the sound system, I can’t say I could hear a problem. He was in chatty form too, explaining that his mother was from a huge Northern Irish family and, to prove the point, there was a cousin in the front row who was able to give him an update on whether one of his uncles was still alive (not as it turned out).
The show certainly didn’t disappoint in terms in terms of the hit count - my own favourite, When I Need You being present and correct alongside Orchard Road, I Can’t Stop Loving You, Moonlighting and Thunder in My Heart.
Other highlights included More Than I Can Say, Have You Ever Been in Love, Till You Come Back to Me, How Much Love, Long Tall Glasses and Easy to Love.
It was a shame that some eager fans were asked by the venue’s management to sit down when they got up to dance to You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, but the rules were later relaxed to ensure there was an undeniable party atmosphere by the end of the show.
by RUTH DOWDS