Back in the ’80s, when Colin Hay led Men at Work, the Australian band’s music videos for chart-topping pop singles such as “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now” were filled with humorous antics. That sensibility still infuses Hay’s modern-day concerts, which tend to open with a comedy monologue.
The practice began after the Scottish-born singer/guitarist first played solo gigs and discovered the old fan base had disappeared.
“Hardly anybody was there and they seemed to be a little embarrassed for me,” said Hay, 64, in a recent phone interview. “So I would start talking to the audience because it was like they were just in this room with me. The divide between performer and audience seemed to be broken down.”
Following a move to L.A’.s Topanga Canyon in the early ‘90s, Hay used shows at the intimate club Largo to regain career momentum.
“Without a stretch of the imagination, it really saved my life and sanity,” he admitted. “Everything was falling away. I didn’t have a record deal, a booking agent or management – none of the industry trappings I’d had for over a decade. Largo was a stabilizing thing. It gave me focus and a place to try out new ideas and songs. Then people started to come.”
During the 2000s, TV producer Bill Lawrence and actor Zach Braff saw Hay perform at the venue. Both were so impressed that the musician/occasional actor was given a few cameos on their NBC series “Scrubs.” Braff later placed “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” in his feature film “Garden State,” whose Grammy-winning soundtrack went platinum.
“Waiting for My Real Life” – the insightful, award-winning documentary named after a 1994 Hay song and released earlier this year on DVD, download and streaming platforms – recounts Hay’s professional highs and lows. Sia, System of a Down’s Serj Tankian, Mick Fleetwood, Hugh Jackman, Guy Pearce and others provide observations.
Hay felt the “Waiting” directors did a good job and really appreciated Fleetwood’s comments because Men at Work’s stint as Fleetwood Mac tour opener in ‘82 “was a very important period and really helpful for us at the time.”
Soon the veteran musician will embark on his biggest SoCal tour in many years to support his excellent 13th studio album “Fierce Mercy.”…