Two of the great voices of British pop, Leo Sayer and Lulu, are joining together for the first time for a tour of Australia.
Lulu was just 15 when she recorded her first UK hit, a version of the Isley Brothers’ Shout, and in 1967 her stunning performance of the theme tune from the film To Sir, With Love (and in which she also appeared alongside Sidney Poitier) took her to the top of charts around the world. Hits like The Boat I Row, Let’s Pretend and Love Loves to Love, Love established her as one of the most dynamic voices of the era and the way she lit up a screen made her a natural for television events like the Eurovision Song Contest (which she won in 1969 representing the UK).
Born a few months before Lulu, Leo Sayer broke through as a singer and songwriter with a string of hits including The Show Must Go On, One Man Band, Long Tall Glasses and Moonlighting. His career went into overdrive in 1977 with two global chart-toppers, the disco-fired You Make Me Feel like Dancing (a Grammy winner for best rhythm and blues song) and the ballad, When I Need You. Sayer had phenomenal nine Top 20 albums and 14 Top 20 singles from 1973 to 1983 and has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide, and in 2006 a remix of his 1977 hit Thunder In My Heart took him back to the top of the UK charts. Leo has lived in Australia since 2005 and became an Australian citizen in 2009.
In 2015 after promoters suggested that Leo and Lulu tourtogether Lulu went to see Leo performing in London and was blown away by his vital stage presence and a voice that could match her own soulful delivery. In fact, she was so impressed she joined him on stage that same night! The two music legends hit it off so well that the Leo & Lulu tour was on.
“I am beyond excited to be coming to Australia for these gigs and sharing the stage with Leo. Leo Sayer is musically the real deal so bring it on I can’t wait ” said Lulu from the backstage of her first show of her current 35 date UK tour.
Leo added “Lulu was already an icon when I came on the scene and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. We’re good pals and I can’t wait to welcome her to Australia.”
The tour commences at Sydney’s State Theatre on 23 June before heading to some of Australia’s finest theatres around the country, with these two icons of the industry performing all their hits separately and together.
LEO & LULU
Thursday, 23 June 2016
State Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Tickets available from 9.00am, Monday 14 March from Ticketmaster
Friday, 24 June 2016
Hamer Hall, Melbourne, Vic
Tickets available from 9.00am, Tuesday 15 March from the Arts Centre and Ticketmaster
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Festival Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Tickets available from 9.00am, Tuesday 15 March from Bass
Thursday, 30 June 2015
QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, Qld
Tickets available from 9.00am, Monday 14 March from QPac
Sunday, 3 July 2016
Concert Hall, Perth, WA
Tickets available from 9.00am, Monday 14 March from Perth Concert Hall and Ticketmaster
Lulu has always found ways to reinvent herself as a performing artist, songwriter and entertainer – from TV variety show host to recording with David Bowie as producer and her 1993 return to the charts with Relight My Fire, a collaboration with Take That. In 2002 she returned to the UK charts with a cover of Bob Seger’s We’ve Got Tonight, a duet with The Voice Australia judge, Ronan Keating.
While ever-popular in the UK through touring, stage musicals and TV appearances including regular spots on Absolutely Fabulous, Lulu returned to the studio for the first time in 10 years for last year’s Making Life Rhyme, mostly self-penned and acclaimed as one of the finest albums of her career. The album was followed by a string of sold-out dates in the UK and a storming set at Glastonbury alerted new generations that before there was Adele and Amy Winehouse, there was Lulu.
Lulu was born in 1948 and raised, as Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, in a tough working-class part of Glasgow. She was first discovered as a schoolgirl singing in a band, with a mighty voice that was the opposite of her diminutive build.
That drive led to her solo career and classics like her 1967 smash with the theme tune for To Sir, With Love. She made her acting debut in that film, a warm and wise exploration of issues such as racial discrimination and the class divide, with Lulu playing one of the young classmates to Sidney Poitier’s brilliant performance as an idealistic teacher imparting life lessons in a London high school.
She was just 20 when she married Maurice Gibb in 1969, the year she won the final of the Eurovision Song Contest with Boom-Bang-a-Bang. That year she recorded the New Routes album at the scene of many legendary soul music recordings, Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama, with a crack band including Duane Allman on guitar and producers Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin. The album included a fine version of the Bee Gees’ song Marley Purt Drive. Gibb and Lulu remained on good terms after their divorce, later performing on TV together. Lulu’s 2015 UK tour included songs in tribute to the Bee Gees.
In 1974, Lulu had a secret liaison with David Bowie, who produced her version of the Bowie classic The Man Who Sold The World, a top 10 hit in the UK. She was also learning from the best as a songwriter and in 1993 she wrote a worldwide hit for Tina Turner, I Don’t Want To Fight. The song gave Lulu the title for her autobiography, published in 2002.
“I’ve been through a lot in my life, a lot of struggles,” she says. “I’ve been one of the luckiest people but I’ve been thrown from pillar to post, emotionally .” These experiences provided the fuel for the songs she wrote for Making Life Rhyme, a soul album for the 21st century that sounds just as relevant and contemporary as anything from younger artists. “Making Life Rhyme is about how I’m living my life now,” she says. “I’ve dealt with demons, I’ve dealt with anxiety, I’ve dealt with sadness. Now I like who I am … I feel like I have grown up in a way.”
Lulu has been in the music business for 51 years. Yet she seems utterly undimmed by time; slim, vivacious and energetic, with an appealing combination of bright eyed sprightliness and a very adult, no-nonsense directness. “I was thrown into this business in my childhood. It’s a minefield, you see so many people harmed by believing in their success. You think you’re invincible, then crash, it all comes down. I’ve managed to look like I’m holding it together but it ain’t been easy. This is what I’m talking about, everything that I’ve been through in my life. It’s really about going beyond the problems everyone’s got. I’ve been there, done it but now I’m living in the solution. That’s what it’s about!”
Leo Sayer’s life is packed with extraordinary stories, from his early meeting with songwriter Dave Courtney (one of the first songs they wrote together, Giving It All Away, was a massive solo hit for Roger Daltrey of The Who), to the studio jam with LA session masters Larry Carlton and Ray Parker Jr which grew into You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.
Sayer has seen all the highs and lows of a life in the spotlight, always able to adapt to the ever-changing musical landscape.
Sayer was raised in Sussex where he studied graphic design before hooking up with musician Dave Courtney. Together they wrote Giving It All Away, which became the first solo hit for Roger Daltrey of The Who in 1973. But it was Sayer’s memorable TV performance of The Show Must Go On, dressed in Pierrot mime costume and make-up, which announced the arrival of a major new force in British music.
His 1977 singles You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and When I Need You took him to No 1 in the US and in many other countries, and his 1979 compilation The Very Best of Leo Sayer gave him his first UK No 1 album and seventh consecutive top 20 album. Sayer fought back from legal disputes with former management and record companies with the weapon he has always had, the enormous energy of his live performances. Sayer has lived in Sydney since 2005, is now an Australian citizen, and continues to tour the world.
Last year he released his first album of new material in six years, Restless Years, featuring a reunion with his When I Need You co-writer Albert Hammond. The album was followed by sold-out theatre shows here in in Australia and UK.