Home Live Review Live Review: Colin Hay @ Lincoln Theatre — 4/2/22

Live Review: Colin Hay @ Lincoln Theatre — 4/2/22

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Colin Hay performs at Lincoln Theatre on April 2, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)

Who can it be now? Why, it’s Colin Hay, the bearded Scotsman famed for fronting the band Men at Work. With his signature dry sense of humor, Colin is well recognized when he’s on the stage, as was the case at the Lincoln Theatre in DC recently. But at home in the suburbs of Los Angeles, he’s gained quite a bit of anonymity — a far cry from when he arrived for the first time in New York City for he first time 40 years ago.

In 1982, Men at Work’s debut album, Business as Usual, hit the US album chart at No. 1 for 15 weeks, led by the success of the indomitable single “Down Under.” At the time, even in crowded NYC, frontman Hay was recognized everywhere he went, Colin reported. Now at home, he can be in a line of six people at the local CVS checkout and no one bats an eye when the store’s radio plays one of his signature songs. Although, he quipped wistfully, he might enjoy being recognized once in a while under those circumstances.

Well, as fickle a mistress she may be, fame still agrees with Colin Hay, who indeed performed three classic Men at Work songs at the Lincoln Theatre on April 2. Performing solo with his impressive set of guitars, Colin sang stripped down versions of “Down Under” (at the end of the set), “Who Can It Be Now?” (at about the two-thirds mark), and “Overkill” (sometime between the other two). And the audience was just as rapt and attentive for the rest of the set, dominated by Colin’s 2022 solo album, Now and the Evermore, and his 2021 pandemic lockdown covers record, I Just Don’t What to Do With Myself.

Colin topped the first third of the concert by playing the title track to Now and the Evermore, which features Ringo Starr playing drums on the album track. Throughout the might, Colin peppered the show with vignettes of admiration about Ringo, who recruited Hay for His All Starr Band back in 2003. The men have enjoyed a warm relationship since but Colin shared his disbelief still at playing on stage with the former Beatle, occasionally looking over his shoulder at the drummer during their recurring tours for Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band to ensure that he’s really there! Ringo, Colin supposed, doesn’t have the same challenges with fame.

Watch Colin Hay perform “Now and the Evermore” acoustically with Cecilia Noël (his wife) and San Miguel Perez on YouTube:

Hay’s recent songs packed a great deal of emotional power into stirring arrangements and quiet interludes. Delivered in his unmistakable warm voice, the songs occasionally struck a sad note, but it was a sadness of learned men, who recognize the value of time and friendship and dreams. Theses themes were evident in the new album’s “Sea of Always,” which Colin played at the midpoint of the show. The jaunty song celebrated opportunity after potential loss: “No one will come and save the day/ You are your own forgiver/ There’s really nothing in my way/ Why do I shake and shiver?” Colin presented the “sea of always” as time’s continued flow, and his welcoming tone suggested there was life still remaining beyond the lying and crying.

I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself received attention in the form of two very well-received covers — the title track, a cover of Dusty Springfield, to open the show and “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks also in the first half. Colin shared memories of first hearing such formative songs while in his father’s record shop in Scotland, and the poignancy of “Waterloo Sunset” stuck with him as he later heard it on the gangplank while boarding the ship that would emigrate the family to Australia. Colin’s rendition of the song was spare and affecting, and it endlessly delighted the crowd in the very full hall of the Lincoln Theatre.

Watch Colin Hay play “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks in a solo acoustic performance on YouTube:

As lovely and timeless as Colin’s songs and covers may be, the audience was truly there to see the man. Colin maybe could have pulled up a chair and chatted away for 90 minutes, and every soul in the theater would have been as fulfilled and pleased as if they just heard a jam-packed show. Once you get to know him or perhaps reacquaint yourself with him, Colin simply has that affect on you. He’s an earnest, optimisitic spirit who acknowledges that life sometimes kicks you when you are down. But he also suggests to you that you get back up, and carry on your way. He humorously referenced this attitude in an observation that he’ll keep making albums even if (the implication goes) they don’t achieve the massive sort of world-bending success they did 40 years ago.

And that’s OK. Because Colin Hay always still finds his audience, and that audience can count on their famous friend to sing some remarkable tunes and assure them we will all be OK here and now and in the evermore.

Catch Colin Hay on tour (including a somewhat DMV local show tonight at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts).

Here are some photos of Colin Hay performing at the Lincoln Theatre on April 2, 2022. All pictures copyright Parklife DC.

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