If singer-songwriter Colin Hay, (most famous as the frontman for Australian 80s hitmakers Men at Work) ever has to give up music, he could easily have a career in standup comedy. The feisty veteran pop star displayed his devilish wit with a Scottish twist at his opening concert on his latest solo tour. The sold-out show at the historic Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara on February 27th featured songs from the prolific songwriters' long and storied career.
The evening began with a pre-concert backstage meet and greet and cocktail party. The money from the exclusive VIP tickets will go to charity. Colin is doing the meet and greets at select cities on the current tour. According to the singer with Australian roots, “The money from the meet and greets is going to a charity to help rebuild the town of Cobargo, near where I used to have property. Since I know the area, I have a personal connection to the people, and virtually the whole town burned down. It’s helping on a grassroots level.”
Most of the sold-out audience had found their seats by the time the show began. Colin sauntered onstage just after 8 pm for a near two-hour solo acoustic show. The witty banter started almost immediately with references about working as an aging pop star and referring to the roadies that would tuner his guitars in the past, “And now I have to do it myself,” he quipped while giving wide-eyed glances to the sides of the stage. He would repeat the gesture throughout the night, eliciting an ever-increasing bout of laughter from the crowd.
The prolific songwriter culled his setlist from his 13 solo albums and selected classic hits from Men at Work. As he opened the 15 songs set with the tune “Into The Cornfield” from his 1997 album Peaks and Valleys, several things became immediately apparent. First, the singer’s aforementioned clever wit shined through the performance almost immediately. Next, Colin’s immense talent as a singer and guitar picker were immediately apparent. The singer's impressive vocal range compliments a guitar picking style he has honed to near perfection over the decades. His early influences can be heard on his almost jazz-like picking style. In a recent interview, Colin shared, “I loved Joes Feliciano. He was the first guy I saw when I was a kid playing solo, and it was f—-ing mind-blowing.” You could hear Feliciano’s influence throughout the show at the Lobero this night. Finally, the songwriter's insightful talents as a storyteller come through with his brilliantly detailed songs.
The singer endeared himself to the crowd with hilarious song introductions and sarcastic reminiscent anecdotes, through a fifteen-song list that drew from many of his solo albums. Colin even played “Beautiful World,” a song from the album, Company of Strangers by Ringo and His All-Star Band. Colin has long been a member of that band, which may be the most talented classic rock band in the world. The Men at Work former frontman also included three of that band’s biggest hits in the setlist, all of which elicited a vociferous sing-along from the elated audience.