Review: Leo Sayer on home turf at Assembly Hall, Worthing

Leo Sayer - triumphant show on home turf
Leo Sayer - triumphant show on home turf

The exuberance of coming home lit up Leo Sayer’s face and gave Worthing a night to remember.

The voice that took him from Shoreham-by-Sea to world pop stardom is intact. The songs still sound great.

And the self-deprecating, down-to-earth good humour proves you can take the superstar out of Sussex but you can’t take Sussex out of the superstar.

He had an instant rapport with a crowd eager to welcome him back to home turf. This was the last night of a UK tour, and on-stage larks were well in evidence.

Leo was in the mood for a good time, and chatted about growing up in the area, recalling long-gone nightspots in Montague Street, the scene of romantic adventures in his hit Moonlighting.

All the hits were here, and it is easy to forget how many there have been: The Show Must Go On, One Man Band, Raining in My Heart, More Than I Can Say, When I Need You, Orchard Road, and the achingly beautiful Have You Ever Been in Love.

He’s written and co-written some corkers.

But that voice, effortlessly switching from funky scat to tender yearning, and disco falsetto, is what has given Leo staying power as his career enters its fifth decade.

Thunder in My Heart, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing, the hits just kept on coming, and Leo, for this crowd, could do no wrong - despite the acoustic and aesthetic challenges of the venue.

His sister was in the audience and he was ably assisted by his talented nephew providing a trumpet solo on one number.

A sour note: A delayed start meant a few, like me, had to leave before the end to catch buses or trains, which was a shame.

Paradoxically, Leo is now an Australian citizen, but he’s quoted in the programme saying: “I can’t tell you the kick I still get out of being Gerard Sayer from 193b Upper Shoreham Road, Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex who dreamed up songs in his bedroom, songs about Shoreham-by-Sea and saw them happen in other people’s lives. It’s beautiful.

He may have been just visiting, but Worthing welcomed him back with open arms.

ALAN COOPER