Colin Hay saunters on to the stage to ‘Farewell to Cheyenne’ by Ennio Morricone, no surprise considering his love of westerns, but this perfectly sets up the ambience of the evening. It plods along with a humorist twist, but scratch the surface and you’ll find a well of melancholia. With his soft Ayrshire accent untempered by years of living abroad, he states “this song is from my new album and its got a chorus I want you to sing along with. I know most of you have probably only just got yer trousers on and you’re thinking ‘this fucker is already asking us to sing along'”, the tone of the show is well and truly set.
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Nominally touring to promote is new album ‘Fierce Mercy’ your still unsure what to expect from Hay’s shows, though this performance provides to be more conventional, even if he does spend as much time chatting away as he does playing. For this show, he strikes a good balance between songs from his new album and a selection of fan favourites.
The new stuff is enjoyable and shows he hasn’t lost his touch, this being said thankfully an ill-advised rap song doesn’t make its way into the live show. When he breaks out the old stuff it is great to hear it tweaked or reinvented, so if you’re hoping to just sing along to your favourites tunes you’re going to be disappointed. Considering he was on stage for two hours and a half, there is plenty of crackers he didn’t play, which is a testament to the strength of his back catalogue.
The real joy of the show is Hay’s anecdotes and rambling between songs. His dry wit and sardonic humour contextualise songs in moments of his life. It feels like he’s learnt a lot on how to tell a story from his Edinburgh Fringe show Get Rid of the Minstrel. Without a band to back him t, the stories have more weight and work better, even if you’ve heard some of them before.
The only drawback from the show is the previously mentioned length, he certainly provides bang for your buck, but with the lengthy running time attention starts to waver and it was clear the audience were starting to feel fatigued by the end of the show.
Most will only know Hay from his time in Men at Work, or his few appearances in Scrubs, but those willing to delve into his work and will find a great wealth of material, and I can’t think of a better way to do this than go see him in the flesh.