LEO Sayer has crammed a lot into his life.
Now approaching 65, the curly-haired songwriter is no spring chicken, but that doesn’t faze him.
This week, Sayer, along with David Cassidy and Smokie, play as part of the popular Once in Lifetime Show at Sheffield Arena.
The show’s packed with some of Sayer’s hits, which, over the years, have included the 1976 track You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and Moonlighting, from 1975.
And all this is to be squeezed into one night.
“I don’t know how I’ve squeezed it all into my life, let alone a night but I’m blessed with having endless energy and for me being energetic all the time is a natural state.”
Sussex-born Sayer now lives in Australia, a country where, he says, he feels like being on the go all the time and it is more acceptable to be brimming with energy.
“In the UK people would always say ‘slow down’ and ‘be patient’ but over in Australia they’re working at a pace of 10 miles per minute. They have an enthusiasm for life.”
It’s Sayer’s own enthusiasm for life that has influenced most of his songs.
“I used to write poems when I was a kid. I always used to take a long time on the loo because I would be writing songs and my family would say to me ‘why are you so long on the loo?’ But I’ve always needed to write down experiences.”
And Sayer appears to be a magnet for experiences.
“In one of my old bands the van driver ran off with the chief constable’s daughter. They repainted the van and travelled up the M6 to Gretna Green – it was the first day they opened the M6 – but the police shut the motorway further up. Only once you get to Gretna Green can you marry without the consent of your parent.”
This almost fictional story inspired the aptly entitled Moonlighting.
“These experiences seem to happen around me all the time,” says Sayer. “I see everything as a song. For example, there’s a man I know who has his own business and he was really depressed at one point and then one day this lovely young girl started working at the shop and she had this energy and it really lit up his day. When I spoke to him again he said ‘my life’s great, I have this great girl working at the shop and I’m liking the business again.”
This anecdote inspired Saturday Girl.
It’s not just Sayer who has sung his hits over the years, either. Artists including Tina Turner, Dolly Parton and even Roger Daltrey from The Who have covered the songwriter’s creations.
And yet, in spite of the fact he’s been doing this since he was snapped up by manager Adam Faith in 1973 at the age of 25, Sayer is still writing.
“I’m cursed with a high IQ, and I have to satisfy it somehow. I’m a great believer in songwriting as an important means of expressing myself.”
But Sayer is an old-fashioned craftsman. He doesn’t want to be part of the new-age pop world of the X Factor, Simon Cowell and artists being heralded to satisfy the needs of television producers.
“I was on Big Brother once and they edited out all the bits in which I was creative so that was never seen. But television is a medium that makes the papers.”
Sayer has always cherished his independence as an artist, choosing what he writes about and when. Now, he’s working on his new album, though he’s yet to decide upon a title and he has to finish his Once in a Lifetime tour first.
But he’s in no rush to be over with it.
“I like coming out here and playing these shows,” he says.
“I like talking to people in my shows, and being a musician I get to travel all over, from Sri Lanka to Korea. Anywhere you go you just bring your happy self. People want to be entertained and I feel that as I am getting older my shows are becoming more and more humorous. It’s music with a little bit of stand-up thrown in.”
Sayer thinks his humorous take on the show will be well-received in the north.
“The north is the home of the great comics. Humour is a way of dealing with life when everything’s being thrown at you, whether it’s family trouble or unemployment.”
And, like humour, Sayer’s music has remained the constant in his own life.
“I’ve had a marvellous journey I create all the time and now have a wonderful show. There are so many hits in this tour that there are five that I can’t play simply because there isn’t room.”
The Once in a Lifetime tour comes to the Motorpoint Arena on Friday December 16.