Illawarra Performing Arts Centre
Unlike other musicians who have made the transition from life as a band’s lead singer to a solo artist, Colin Hay has no qualms about people coming to his music from first being fans of Men at Work.
‘‘Obviously it was a huge band and a huge part of my life and career, so it’s had a massive influence on everything since. In terms of thinking about that consciously though, I don’t really, it’s just part of who I am,’’ he says matter-of-factly.
During his shows, the Scottish singer is happy to throw the occasional Men at Work song to the crowd because he too enjoys playing them, but in the decades since the band ceased to exist, Hay says he barely recognises the young man in the videos and photographs.
‘‘If you consciously look back, like if I listen to a song or watch an old video, I think ‘‘who’s that guy?’’, but that’s like anyone who looks back at a photograph from 35 years ago. Everyone goes through changes and develops, hopefully,’’ he laughs.
Though performing alone is not as frenetic as getting on stage with a full band, Hay never tires of being on the road, partly because slogging in pubs and clubs when he first went solo was what kept him going.
‘‘When I was dropped by my major labels I started touring and it was my lifeblood, it’s what gave me a lot of purpose, so I have a lot of respect for that. It’s quite nourishing in many ways,’’ he explains.
‘‘I’ll do it while I can and hopefully I’ll know when to stop, or if I don’t know, hopefully someone will tell me.’’
It took Hay time to find his feet as a solo act, so in tribute to the man who told him to go out and ‘‘find his dance’’ after a concert one night and reinvigorated his attitude to music, he named this tour Finding My Dance.
‘‘I agreed with him because it was a particular time in my life, it wasn’t the high point of my career, so I embarked upon what I am doing now, which was a long time ago and I’m still finding it.’’
‘‘It is an endless quest, but the doing of it is the important part. It’s valuable to look inside and get closer to yourself.’’
Hay has a reputation for being a comedian on stage, partly from his cameo appearances on the television show Scrubs a few years ago.
The funny man persona wasn’t something he consciously set out to achieve, but he says there are few better feelings than getting a laugh.
He tends to have a few jokes up his sleeve, but tries to hone in on the mood of the audience.
‘‘I have a map, if you like, or different key elements which are really safe zones where you know they work and you can go from there depending on the audience. It’s planned spontaneity if you like, having a little safety island you can go back to and spring from on any given night.’’
Though if anything falls really flat, he has the perfect back-up plan. ‘‘If that happens I just play a song,’’ he laughs.