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  Directed by
  • Full Frame
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • None
  • Cast/crew biographies - As part of the Interview extra.
  • Interviews - Leo Sayer
Leo Sayer: One Night in Sydney - Live at the Basement
Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 76 mins . E . PAL


Leo Sayer is quite an enigma. Mention his name today in most music discussions, and people look at you like you've lost your mind. Of course, anything you say after that is not likely to be taken seriously, and your friends will never let you forget it. What they probably don't know, however, is that there was a time when Leo Sayer was a very popular artist, and when you listen to the man himself rattle off the list of names he has worked with, you begin to understand that his musical influence and success is a lot greater than he is given credit for.

Born Gerard Sayer and nicknamed Leo for his lion like appearance by the wife of then manager Adam Faith, himself a former pop star, the two things that have not changed in the 30 years since his first album are his crazy clown-wig like hair, and his enthusiastic and energetic stage show. His debut album, Silverbird, was a top seller in the UK and the USA, as was the follow-up Just A Boy. Hit songs from these albums included The Show Must Go On, Long Tall Glasses, and One Man Band. His next three albums all went Top 10 in the UK, but were less successful in the States. Most of his albums since then have at least entered the UK Top 20 and have spawned nine UK and four US Top Ten hits including When I Need You (a UK and US Number One), More Than I Can Say, Moonlighting, and How Much Love (his other US Number One). Remember, too, that Sayer wrote or co-wrote most of his own songs. Further proof that the man has talent.

Leo Sayer - One Night In Sydney: Live at the Basement is a recent record of what Leo Sayer's career has become in the last ten years, and that is focused on live performances. The accompanying documentary highlights that Sayer is well aware of the fickle finger of pop and the rollercoaster nature of a career in music, and more importantly that he accepts it. Even he would probably agree that his career will never quite reach the heights it once did, but it is still fun, and he is still able to make a living from it. He is not about to complain about travelling the world, meeting people and doing the thing he loves, performing.

For those not yet aware, the Basement is a Sydney club, and the small, intimate venue has been the setting for a number of recent DVD releases. It includes its own radio station, and broadcasts some shows, such as this one, onto the Internet. The intimate setting is perfect for Leo Sayer, who obviously enjoys performing, and feeds off the crowd enthusiasm that he manages to generate. His enthusiasm is infectious, and the small but appreciative crowd were literally dancing in the aisles (well between the tables anyway) and on stage with Sayer, who obviously revels in their appreciation. Don't be put off by the nay-sayers (ooh, bad pun)... If you've ever caught yourself singing along to a Leo Sayer hit, then bite the bullet and give Leo Sayer - One Night In Sydney: Live at the Basement a look.

Track listing:

Giving it All Away
Thunder in My Heart
Blame it on The Night
One Man Band
Show Must Go On
More Than I Can Say
Orchard Road
Raining in My Heart
Easy to Love
Feel Like Dancing
When I Need You
Long Tall Glasses
How Much Love


Leo Sayer - One Night In Sydney: Live at the Basement is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (full frame) and therefore is not anamorphically enhanced. On the whole, this transfer is a little disappointing, certainly not as good as other Live at the Basement releases I have seen. Colours are fine, though they are somewhat affected by chroma noise, albeit slight, and also by stage lighting, a common problem in live performance DVDs.

Being recorded straight to video hasn't helped with some of the problems such as the black levels, which are okay in the close ups, but in the long and medium shots appear almost blue. Shadow detail is fine as long as Sayer stays on stage, but when he wanders into the crowd, he tends to disappear. Being a live venue, only the stage has proper lighting so it his hard to fault the transfer for this and it's something you'll just have to accept.

The overall sharpness of the image is acceptable, but looks better in the close up shots. There are the usual aliasing problems on such things as guitar strings, but fortunately Sayer's energetic performance helps you to look past many of the visual shortcomings. Another positive is the layer change - there isn't one.

It may have some video failings, but no such problems exist with the audio. The only option is Dolby Digital 5.1 and it's a good example of what an intimate setting should sound like on DVD. Most of the music is placed across the front with noticeable separation, with the rear speakers used mainly for audience response and music 'overflow', and not specifically for instruments of vocal trickery. All instruments sound loud and clear as are the vocals from the centre speaker. There are no harmony vocals, and no problems understanding the lyrics, Sayer comes through loud and clear at all times. The low-level sounds are beautifully rich and drive the whole feel of the show. The drums come through nicely, with the various runs across the toms sounding great. Audio synch is not a problem.

The only extra is a wonderful 22 minute interview/biographical presentation called Leo Sayer - The Show Must Go On. It is presented by rock historian Glenn A. Baker and covers Sayer's career interspersed with input from the man himself via snippets of an interview recorded at the bar of the Basement, and in the Basement radio station. At 22 minutes it is a perfect length, interesting and informative.

Leo Sayer is no longer in favour in 2002, but this should not deter fans old and young from taking a look at Leo Sayer - One Night In Sydney: Live at the Basement. It looks OK, it sounds great and Leo Sayer's catchy songs and infectious enthusiasm should take care of the rest. Forget what your friends say, this is good fun stuff, and if all else fails and it turns out you don't like it after all, well you can always give it to your Mum.

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  •   And I quote...
    "I defy anyone to listen to Long Tall Glasses and not sing along "...long tall glasses, with wine up to he-yar..." - pop genius. All this from a man just five foot two - six foot two, including hair."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
    • Centre Speaker:
    • Surrounds:
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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