“I’m happy to live in the mystery…” One of a seemingly endless set of poetic and thoughtful comments made on stage at The Crest Theatre in Sacramento on Sunday night. Part of a solo performance by Colin Hay, best known as the front man, vocalist, and guitarist for the Australian, early 80s, Grammy-winning New Wave/Rock/Raggae band Men at Work. In 1983, the band had a number one album (Business as Usual) and a number one single (“Down Under”) and gained international fame with their music and quirky music videos. Here we are, 32 years later, and Mr. Hay has cultivated not only an interesting career but an interesting life with insights and experiences that continue to guide him. All this time later, there is no ego, no regret, and an incredible depth of self-awareness. He seems to have a vivid and real view of the world and how it works, and seems quite settled and comfortable with who he is and his role in life as not just a musician, but as a storyteller and philosopher, with much of the latter coming in the form of brilliant comedy. I’d been lucky enough to catch his Finding My Dance one man show in 2013, so I had an idea of what to expect, but his current tour supporting his latest album, Next Year People, was even better. He is one of the most entertaining and gifted artists touring today, and I can’t recommend enough turning out for one of his shows if you have the opportunity.
Colin Hay, best known for his role in Men At Work, will be undergoing an extensive U.S. tour over the coming months, as well as playing some dates in Australia in April and May. Come June, Colin Hay will be joining Barenaked Ladies and Violent Femmes as part of the “2015 Last Summer on Earth Tour”. [Read more…]
“We got in kind of late today, and everybody jumped off the bus, except me… I had to change my clothes… and I looked out the window, and there was a man in his underpants… directly across from the bus… and was just sort of walking around like, ‘it’s cold’. And I felt like I was finally at home. Which brings us to this next song, ladies and gentlemen, which is called ‘We Live In A Dump’.” Preface to one of their uniquely They Might Be Giants songs, by one of the two founding members, John Flansburg, painting an accurate picture of the immediate area surrounding The Warfield in San Francisco in a uniquely perceptive and humorous TMBG way. The Grammy Award-winning duo and backing band have long been pioneers in alternative and experimental music, breaking into the mainstream with their third studio album, Flood (1990), which included hits “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” and well known for their “Boss of Me” theme song to the television series, Malcolm in the Middle. Last night’s show included a great mix of old and new material, including songs from their 16th studio album, Nanobots, released just a few months ago. The packed theater seemed to be filled with hardcore fans, which wasn’t surprising given that their work is so unique and they have been so prolific over more than a quarter century that they’ve cultivated quite a following.
Early on during his “Finding My Dance” one man show, I got the sense that Colin Hay is often the smartest person in the room, no matter how large or small the venue. More than a musician (and a great one at that), he is a philosopher, comedian, and genuinely kind man. He is very funny, and not just prepared and rehearsed funny, but quick witted as well, and I’ve always operated under the idea that really funny people have to be highly intelligent in the most fundamental of ways, as you must have real keen self awareness and highly complex and contemplative observational abilities, as well as emotional depth and empathy. I picked up on all of this with Colin Hay from my front row vantage point at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley where he put on his amazing show for the sold out crowd. That show – a hybrid of music and storytelling – was over two hours long and really captivating in every sense as he took us on both a narrative and musical journey of his life. He talked about having an understanding of his place in the universe, and those who might expect him to be nothing more than the former front man of 80s band Men At Work are truly missing out at what he has to offer not just in terms of music and entertainment, but the wisdom (in the form of stories and anecdotes) from someone who has had experiences that none of us ever could. He is a great musician but a wonderful storyteller as well, and I can’t imagine a more fitting venue with which to enjoy it.
“Are you ready? Are you really, really, really ready?” The English Beat front man and voice of the band, Dave Wakeling, is one of those music artists that is completely tuned into his audience, particularly in an intimate venue such as The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley, California, where he performed last night. The part seated, part standing 360-capacity venue was packed and from the moment the band stepped onto the stage, the majority was on the dance floor moving to the very unique blending of 2 tone ska/punk/new wave/reggae hits from the band known simply as The Beat in their home of the UK, though also on offer were as some tunes from General Public, the subsequent musical efforts by Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger following the original break-up of The Beat (Ranking Roger currently performs in the UK version of the band back in England). The band dispensed with having an opening band on the bill, and instead performed two full sets of their own on either side of a short intermission. It was a true live music experience that made great use of the excellent sound system and acoustics of the charming venue as they played song after song for the energetic crowd.
The U.S.-based version of The English Beat, fronted by Dave Wakeling, will be touring all over the United States in the coming months, with dates announced through early April. The band and its spin off efforts are staples of New Wave and Modern Rock, responsible for a number of 80s hits and a unique blend of ska that has influenced many bands that followed. [Read more…]
Thursday night was a special evening of music for fans of 80s music in Dixon, CA at the Dixon May Fair. Featured in concert were two great bands, with The Romantics opening and The English Beat (or just The Beat in their home of the UK) headlining. The 80s is my personal favorite era of music, particularly anything that fell into the broad categories of “Modern Rock” (later “Alternative”) and it’s various subgenres. The performances did not disappoint, as each group played favorite, catchy tunes with a great crowd of real fans in attendance. Fantastic show and awesome to see both bands on the same night, back to back. [Read more…]