Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
English songwriter-singer Leo Sayer first made a name for himself as a performer with his theatrical stage antics and a clown suit that was his regular stage attire. While his records sold well, the American public didn't find his constume very amusing.
Sayer has now dropped the clown suit, yet the image persists. Appearing Monday night at Wolf Trap before a squealing crowd that anticipated his every move, he proved that he is still an engaging performer. His baggy pants, floppy vests and seemingly oversized white shoes lent a humorous touch to his stage acrobatics.
He cringed in mock fear before a synthesized thunderstorm (hardly necessary: nature had just provided the real thing), tiptoed about the stage to a lilting piano melody and boxed with the musicians.
Sayer's singing and music are less entertaining however. His voice is as thin and wiry as his 112-pound frame and many of the slower songs demanded stronger and more powerful vocals. Songs with a more quickly, upbeat feel such as his hit "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" were better suited to his singing style.
While his singing is thin, his music is emaciated. The songs draw freely from country, rock, and pop, and some feature a honky-tonk music hall style. Several of Sayer's songs sounded like rough versions of Elton John tunes yet they lacked the biting melodic hooks that characterize the best of the latter's commercial efforts.
Sayer's clowning could not save his lackluster material and his performance seemed tentative and mediocre. He does have a certain polish and presence, yet he lacks a sense of energy and excitement. His set needed something extra. A red rose for the gentleman if you please.