Concert Review: Colin Hay in Monterey

A good concert makes me want to go home and play. A great concert makes me want to go home and write. Like this one.

Colin Hay brought his band to Monterey’s Golden State Theater last month. If you just expected a guy just checkboxing his hits from the 80s, were *you* in for a surprise. To most people, Hay was the frontman for Men at Work and one of the original MTV video stars. (Remember MTV? Groundbreaking cable channel. Used to play music.) I enjoyed MAW’s hits, but I always thought that they never quite received the real recognition they deserved. They were more than a few clicks up from where they were pigeonholed as a post-punk, New Wave band back in my day.

More recently, I’ve become hip to Hays’ solo career. He’s an amazingly prolific songwriter. He’s also fast become my latest musical crush. Just love this guy’s material.

I’m late to the party on this guy. He’s been doing solo records for nearly 25 years, so I naively expected a solo songwriter outing. Which would have been fine. The stage was ready for a full band, and at 8pm, with no fanfare, Hay walked out and said, “I’m just the emcee tonight”. He introduced his guitar player San Miguel Perez, half kidded (not really) that “I stole my wife Cecelia Noel’s band”, and then gave Miguel and the rest of these Cuban ringers a half hour to just tear up the place. They featured songs from the Miguel’s new record “Un Poquito De Amor Everyday” – which was produced by Hay and features him in the title track (and video above). Killer band, and Perez shreds like no acoustic player I can recently recall.

Perez and the band finished their set by literally dancing down the aisles. I wondered how Hay would follow this, but, well, he’s been doing this awhile. Plus, he’s Scottish-born and was raised for the most part in Australia: Wicked wit, hell of a showman, plus more great songs than he could shove into the remaining two hours of the night – he gives you your money’s worth.

Hay showcased material from the wonderful new record, “Fierce Mercy,” in addition to his solo “hits” – the songs those of us in-the-know and who listen to KPIG locally are familiar with and fans of. And he held back on the MAW material: “You’ll hear my hits, but we have to go through the past 25 years of my life first.” Was very cool to hear these great songs with intros from the man himself.

Of course, the hits section at the end was the “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Friday Night”-finale of the evening. Hay ran through “Overkill,” “Be Good Johnny,” “Who Can It Be Now,” etc., with everyone up and dancing, and waiving their selfie sticks around. (Remind me: How did people used to watch a concert without simultaneously taking cell phones pics of themselves?)

Also fun: During his obligatory “hits” portion near the end of the show, he threw some time to his wife Cecilia, who did a Cuban flavored version of ACDC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” from her award-winning “Havana Rocks” album and then ANOTHER song from Perez, before running through the rest of the Men at Work catalogue.

Nice touch: After the last song, the band left, and I figured Hay would call it a night. BUT He returned for a solo version of “Waiting For My Life to Begin” and “Next Year People” (LOVE those songs), with part of the band walking back to sing harmony. Nice reminder to the folks who were packing their selfie sticks after “Land Down Under” that this guy has a LOT more to offer.

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