Veteran Scottish-Australian singer-songwriter Colin Hay was in town last night at the Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis for a delightful evening of storytelling and songs. After two show reschedulings in 2020 and 2021, Hay’s fans had been eagerly waiting for this night.
You may think that after two years off from touring due to the pandemic the former Men at Work frontman may be a little rusty, but he was far from it. The 68-year old singer-songwriter did not miss a single beat during his long awaited comeback. Given the anticipation of Hay’s return to the Twin Cities, it’s no wonder the show was almost entirely sold out. With no openers on the bill, a long and warm applause greeted Hay as soon as he stepped onto the stage. It seemed as though the feeling of appreciation was mutual as Hay seemed absolutely chuffed to be back in front of a familiar crowd again.
In classic Colin Hay fashion, he did not kick off the evening with a song, but rather a story. He touched on a wide range of topics to break the ice before jumping into his set. One frequently visited topic being the relationship with his good buddy, Ringo Starr. “Awhile ago Ringo came up to me and asked what I had in my hands… I told him it was my new EP. I said, do you want it? To which Ringo said… “Not really”. The crowded chuckled.
Right after playing his opening cover song, “I Don’t Know What to Do With Myself”, Hay acknowledged the packed house with a grin. “I know you’ve waited a long time for this show — two years now.” As he glanced and pointed behind the stage curtain, Hay jokingly said, “I’ve actually been right back there this whole time just waiting.” This was again, met with laughter.
For those that have not seen Hay before, it quickly becomes apparent that one of his most redeeming characteristics in addition to being a talented musician is his uncanny ability to tell light-hearted stories that draw the audience in from start to finish. Hay constructs a well-crafted cocktail of wit, charm, and humor that the audience graciously feeds on. It feels as though you were right there along for the ride with Hay when he was having these encounters and experiences.
Throughout his set, Hay played a good mixture of old songs, new songs, and familiar hits. After playing a few songs off his latest record, Now and the Evermore, he told the crowd, “I’m going to play some old songs too, don’t panic.” However, it seemed as though the new songs were just as welcomed and well received as the old songs. In between his performing, Hay did not slow down on the storytelling. His stories ranged from a drunk fellow who would come up to the stage displeased with every song he sang except for the “knocking at my door” song (“Who Can It Be Now”), many anecdotes about his travels, and experiences he’s had living in Scotland, Australia, and Los Angeles.
Hay ended the evening with three of his biggest songs, “Overkill”, “Waiting For My Real Life to Begin”, and “Down Under.” All of these ensued a sing-along with the crowd.
While “An Evening With Colin Hay”, may have taken place within the tall walls of the Pantages Theatre, this show felt personal and intimate. Hay still has the chops to put on a great live performance, which was well acknowledged at the end of his set with a roisterous standing ovation. It was well worth the wait.