Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Wed 29 Jun.
Leo & Lulu are in town, and a pretty full Festival Theatre awaits their arrival on stage. The audience demographic is what you’d expect; folks that have followed the careers of one or both of these legendary entertainers since the outset. The band members file out and assume their positions, and it appears that we are ready to go. The stars of the show arrive and are greeted with healthy applause. Sayer and Lulu start proceedings with Thunder In My Heart and Re-Light My Fire, before Have You Ever Been In Love slows things down a little. Lulu looks stunning; resplendent in black, and doing a great job in heels that would have had the health and safety officers trembling. Sayer takes a solo spot and trots out a few classics, and demonstrates that he still plays a mean harmonica in Dancing The Night Away. Lulu then goes it alone and she begins with a great rendition of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World, a song she covered back in 1974, collaborating with the great man himself. Sayer reappears and assists Lulu in a stunning version of The Boat That I Row; just about the highlight of the first half of the show.
Both Sayer and Lulu’s voices are in good nick. Despite the fact that some of these hits were recorded 30-plus years ago, very few concessions are made to advancing years. The melody lines and power of delivery are almost exactly as they always have been. It is an impressive vocal performance, of that there is no doubt.
The two headliners strut their stuff in front of a rather wonderful seven-piece backing band. The overall vibe of the sound is nestled somewhere between the mid-‘70s and mid-‘80s. The arrangements of the songs are brilliant, and the sound quality is excellent. Even when they are all playing at once, the audience can discern every instrument. The band members really deserve to be introduced to the crowd.
The second-half of the show sees a similar format, and begins with Lulu presenting a trio of Bee Gees’ songs, and a few tales of her time with Maurice Gibb. She’s had a costume change, and so has Sayer, who is now looking a little more glitzy. Highlights of the second stanza include Sayer’s Moonlighting and Long Tall Glasses, and Lulu’s Bond song, The Man With The Golden Gun. Her most popular film song, To Sir With Love, is preceded by a heart-warming story about how it came to be. Both artists prove very agreeable when talking with the audience between songs; Sayer is a born entertainer, full of vitality, while Lulu shares some of her deeper reflections on life.
Given that fabulous songs like The Show Must Go On and Me, The Peaceful Heart aren’t featured, it seems a curious decision to serve up a by-numbers version of Hound Dog midway through the set, but perhaps there is a good reason. Sayer and Lulu bid the audience farewell after sharing the love in We’ve Got Tonight and When I Need You.
The two stars return to the stage for an all-singing, all-dancing (and all-standing!) encore of Lulu’s 1965 hit Shout and You Make Me Feel Like Dancing; two songs that, if any, provide the signature sound of these two artists.
The audience have loved their evening, and it looks like the performers have too. This has been the epitome of a good-time concert.
A jolly good show!
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