Sunday, June 15, 2014

COLIN HAY Adelaide Cabaret Festival 13 June 2014

Dunstan Playhouse
June 13-15

Colin Hay walks onto the stage to an instrumental version of Down Under. "That is my favourite version of that song, The South Australia Primary Schools Orchestra.". We are all on side immediately, before he's even played a note. He picks up a guitar and starts to play Wayfaring Sons. "My name is Colin Hay and I was born in a town on the south west coast of Scotland." and proceeds to tell a lovely story about his family's move to Australia, and when he gets the sentence "We arrived on the 13th of June 1967, 47 years ago to the day" everybody loves him, and he has not even started to sing.

When a band has the kind of mega-success that Men At Work had in the early 1980's it easy for them to be relegated to the musical junk bonds of 'one-hit wonder'. The reason that band and those songs were such a huge success the world over was there was more to them than Down Under. They had a great sound, fantastic songs (mostly penned by Hay) and at their peak Men at Work's debut album was number one on the US Billboard charts for FIFTEEN weeks. Think about that for a minute. Who has a number one album for three and a half months any more? That kind of fame is still fleeting though and Hay's excellent Cabaret Festival show is peppered with hilarious, well-told anecdotes about the highs and lows of being mistaken for the guy from A Flock of Seagulls, or people thinking your big hit was Turning Japanese. The stories are fantastic, like a self-deprecating stand up show, and punctuated by excellent songs. Who Can It Be Now has a lovely sing-a-long part for us to join in on, and the audience response is deafening. Beautiful World from his 2002 Company of Strangers album, is a wonderful song about simple pleasures of life, preceded by a hysterical story about shark attacks. That combo really sums up this show in many respects.

"Sometimes people still shout out 'play Down Under', and I always think '@#$% me I never thought of that, good idea pal'". He tells a quite long and laugh-filled story to introduce his biggest hit and the only mention of the controversial copyright case is right before he starts to sing: "Here's a song we wrote, no matter what you might read". As 'one hit wonder' or 'novelty' songs go, Down Under is still head and shoulders above the crowd. It is a celebration, it name checks Kombi's, vegemite sandwiches, the land of plenty and you have heard it a million times, but it still holds up as a solid timeless classic song.

While the iconic songs are the obvious crowd favourites, it's on lesser known gems like There's Water Over You and the as-yet unreleased Scattered In The Sand, that you see the true talent of the man. Hay's voice is rich and emotive, his guitar playing beautiful. When he introduces I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You, a heartbreaking tale of lost love, he can't resist pulling the rug out of his own song's emotional weight. "But you do though, get over people. One day you wake up and think, actually I feel pretty good".

Waiting For My Real life To Begin seems to be a pivotal song for Mr Hay. Not only about waiting for the highlife to come back to you, but the realization that waiting til the time is right is a false economy. The time to do things, any things, is now. This is your real life. Right here and right now. And tonight in this place Colin Hay is one of the great joys of our real lives.

He finishes with a great with an exhilarating version of Men At Work's Overkill (covered so brilliantly by Perfect Tripod only days earlier in their Cabaret festival show) and the beautiful A Simple Song.
Songwriter, singer, funny man, raconteur - Colin Hay was an exceptional inclusion to this festival. He has two remaining shows this weekend. Consider yourself recommended to go.

Ian Bell


Wayfaring Sons
Who Can It Be
Beautiful World
Down Under
There's Water Over You
Scattered In The Sand (unreleased)
I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You
Waiting For My Real Life To Begin
A Simple Song

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