Colin Hay, May 3 @ The Miramar Theatre
By Erin Landry
Dropping in at Bay View’s local watering hole, the Palomino, you might have had the pleasure to be served a drink by Colin Hay’s opening act Thursday night: the talented Davey von Bohlen (of Cap’n Jazz, Promise Ring and Vermont fame), a regal name he says that was given to him at birth, which after the first few songs you realize is in direct contrast to his humble disposition.
Starting off a set with “songs that preamble” by his own admission, he covered material from his “younger days” as well as songs recorded by his current band, Maritime. His voice warbles then cracks at one point, he misses notes, he stops then starts when he forgets lyrics, he laughs and chides himself, all of which just add to the spontaneous feel of his music. The imperfections and mistakes, instead of being distracting, conveyed the creative process and created an intimate performance. It was less of a concert, more of an impromptu experimental venture, music in its most raw form.
And, though no explanation was necessary, after a youthful chirp from his two-year-old at the back of the crowd, he confesses that instead of practicing before the show, he “slacked off” and took his son to the children’s museum. How can you not forgive that?
Let’s get this right out of the way; Colin Hay is so much more than a blip on the ‘80s pop icon MTV screen (Men at Work). Since that time he has assembled an enviable body of work that has been touted through television via “Scrubs” and film via the indie hit “Garden State.” He is an artist that withstands the changing times, providing a new body of work of evocative and bittersweet songs and contemplations on life.
In any case, the night’s performance is less pop concert more all-inclusive variety show (in the best possible sense) with song, poetry, comedy, storytelling and, true to rumor, an array of vocals, kazoo playing and interpretive dance by his gorgeous wife, Cecilia.
The first hour was a sprinkling of newer songs overshadowed mostly by Mr. Hay talking about youth, life lessons and other musings including an admission that, while he recently wrote a song about the infamous Bob Dylan (his opening song: What Would Bob Do?), he’s never actually met the man in person. But instead of working on an album or song with Dylan, he says how he’d prefer to work on a car together, talk about alternators and transmissions…or maybe walk around a Costco in search for toilet paper, all the while doing a half-decent Dylan impression.
Jokes from a locker room perspective, his hatred for fast food slogans and commercials, his love and equal hate for David Caruso (“I watch a lot of television” ) and talking about the upside of L.A. are all diversions from his songs that still kept the audience enraptured.
One of the favorite songs of the evening was “I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you” featured on the “Garden State” soundtrack.
“And if lived til I could no longer climbed my stairs
I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you.”
In the second hour, we are introduced to Cecilia, his wife of five years, who obviously is the driving force in Hay’s youthful vitality. She is effervescent and flamboyant, exotic and unabashed. She dances, sings and mimics flute-ish sounds into the microphone while he performs stripped down versions of his hit singles: “Who can be Now,” “Land Down Under” and “Overkill” to the surprise and delight of the audience.
Colin has often said in interviews that while his fans come in response to his new material he doesn’t mind performing songs from his Men at Work days. He creates a good balance, ever cognizant and respectful of the influence his older material cast on pop culture consciousness.
Funny and vulgar one minute, wistful and introspective the next, but always charming and engaging, Colin Hay is a down-to-earth artist of the highest caliber. This is one live performance not to be missed. Honestly, you couldn’t feel more at home if you were in his kitchen, sitting at his table and chatting over a cup of coffee, or perhaps in his garage leaning on his car along with Dylan, discussing alternators and transmissions. VS
To see more of Erin’s photos from the show, please visit our Gallery.