Leo Sayer’s music is my age. At 69 he’s a decade older than I am. However, it was, inter alia, his music I listened to as a young woman, first finding my feet in the complex social world outside my family and school (not that those two weren’t already complex enough).
The superstar is coming to South Africa for a three concert visit – 21, 22 and 23 April at the Teatro, Montecasino. I interviewed him telephonically from his Australian home for my blog.
Leo Sayer was the artist who opened Sun City’s Superbowl way back in 1979. It was the height of the United Nations cultural boycott on South Africa in condemnation of apartheid. The argument used by Sol Kerzner (apart from financial incentives) was that Sun City was not in South Africa, but in Bophuthatswana, an independent state and that the black and coloured fans of the artists should be allowed to hear their favourite artists live. Leo Sayer, a long term friend of many of the members of the ANC in exile, was tied up in an exclusive contract, but did manage to perform an informal and impromptu concert in Soweto with Winnie Madikizela Mandela during that visit, although it caused so much trouble for Leo Sayer that his plans to perform free of charge at schools and other townships and villages were cancelled. I missed Leo Sayer’s visit, but did catch Bony M, Rod Stewart, Elton John and Queen later.
Since then Leo Sayer has visited Africa including South Africa regularly, both as a tourist visiting Africa’s many reserves and national parks, including the Kruger National Park and Addo Elephant Park as well as some private game reserves. He saw the new Millenium in at a private concert in the Karoo for guests of the Blue Train (both the one coming from Cape Town and travelling north and the one coming from Pretoria and travelling south). In 2005 he was back for the Silver Jubilee Concert of the Superbowl.
Sayer has worked consistently, staying busy with studio recording, song-writing and concert tours. He does between 180 and 200 concerts a year in Australia and South East Asia and China, and in other places. From Johannesburg he will be spending two months touring in England and then down to Malta before returning home to finish the album he is currently working on.
We talk about the joys or otherwise of aging and Sayer assures me he has all the energy he ever had, as well as the wisdom born of experience. His health, like that of many older people, improved after diagnosis of disease led to improved lifestyle habits.
Sayer’s recent album is named for one of the songs on it, “Restless Years”, which refers to the time before he became famous, when he was still on the cusp of his career. It takes the distance of age to truly appreciate youth. He points out that while This album will be on sale at the concerts. Sayer says that if he ever feels the need or temptation to retire he may write a book.
Sayer has lived his dream but still has a lot of excitement and expectations. He says he has a wanderlust now, always looking to the horizon, and his ambition is to be back in Southern Africa soon, playing in Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Zimbabwe.
The concert will have some newer material as well as the old Leo Sayer standards. Booking for the concerts at Montecasino’s Teatro on Friday 21 April at 20:00 and Saturday 22 April at 20:00 and Saturday 23 April at 15:00 can be done through Computicket. Ticket prices vary from R495 to R795.