When America looked into the electric glow of MTV on the television in 1982, little did they know what kind of impact four Australians and a saxophone rift would have on the music world. Behind an ominous door and in the shadows of a blackened room with only one spotlight, these Men at Work proved that they had the singing chops that would make them famous, and songs like “Who Can It Be Now” that continue to be requested to this very day.
However, out of all these men who came from a land down under, none have had quite the impact as Colin Hay. Starting out as the lead singer of the group, he stood out with his distinctive pipes, mullet haircut and rock-n’-roll attitude. Nearly 30 years later since his first hit, Hay has reinvented himself over as the Scottish-Australian solo singer with a plethora of softer acoustic guitar songs that show off his still-unique voice on a more playful and irreverent platform. While many fans remember him from his Men at Work days, Colin Hay has been able to widen his audience and gain a younger fan base lately through his work on the Garden State soundtrack, and his very humorous cameos with actor Zach Braff on the medical dramedy, Scrubs.
On March 22nd, One World Theatre was able to host this enigmatic musician for a sold-out performance. For over two weeks prior to the show, the excitement built as I heard people over and over again talk about what an amazing performer Colin is. Even on the night of the show, Hartt Stearns introduced Colin Hay as “one of the best shows I have ever seen.” Naturally, the air was thick with anticipation as Hay ascended the stage, where one microphone and several guitars were strategically placed under the glow of an amber spotlight.
I think it’s safe to say, the audience was blown away. Hay accomplished a performance that was compelling, theatrical, hilarious, poignant and just plain good. Similar to a platform like VH1’s “Storytellers,” Hay’s act was half musical performance, half stories that were engaging and delightful. In his interesting Scot/Aussie accent, Hay gave renditions of songs that were both powerful and lovely in their simplicity, all the while peppering his music with a woven tapestry of stories about growing up in Australia, his Dad as his own personal hero and even his first band experiences. There were times when the audience would listen in silence to the musical notes he sang, while other times they were bowled over in laughter from his hysterical antics. It was fantastic to have a musician open up his life and history in such a personal way, enriching the story of his songs and creating meaning and magic to his lyrics.
The icing on the cake was being able to see Colin Hay perform at the One World Theatre. In such a small and intimate venue, any audience member could hear even the most subtle note that hit the microphone, and see every animated face or body movement this dynamic performer made. Hearing his stories in this theatre made it feel as though the whole world melted away and it was only you and Colin exchanging songs. The combination of it all made for one exhilarating night, and a performance that truly couldn’t be missed. The next time Colin Hay performs at the One World Theatre, be sure to catch a great performance by this brilliant and funny musician!