Culture, Music

Review: Colin Hay at NZ Comedy Fest 2015

Colin Hay, you might recall, is a rock star – or, at least, he was a rock star. Lead singer of that early-80s Australian band “Men At Work.” Writer of all their hits (well, both their hits). Winner of a Grammy in 1983 for “Best New Artist.” He’s a perfectly good singer and song-writer – some beautiful ballads, and touching love songs, and the totemic “Down Under.” What he is not is a comedian.

I’m not sure why Colin Hay’s one-man show was included in the Comedy Festival. It’s as if the promoters were too late for the Arts Festival, so they thought “ah, just shove it in the Comedy.” The problem is that Hay isn’t a comic – he’s a singer and raconteur. He’d play a song, and then tell a wee story about the song, or his childhood somewhere, and then he’d play another song, and tell another story. Wash, rinse, repeat. The stories were interesting, and were mildly amusing at best, but funny they weren’t. As comedy, it was toe-curlingly unfunny. As a one-man musical act, it was a pleasant evening.

The performance itself had plenty of pathos, and was a metacognitive marvel. Hay is the epitome of the washed-up rock star: a Grammy, and two Billboard Number Ones, and a multi-platinum selling album, and an induction into the Australian Music Hall of Fame, and thirty years later here he is, in Auckland, on his own, singing soulful songs to an audience of 100 people in a theatre that seats 700. His stories and songs were all about days gone by: “I remember when I was touring with Ringo Starr,” or “So, at the Grammies in 1983….” It felt like watching someone slowly relive their life through song, giving us glimpses of glory days. It was fascinating, but it wasn’t comedy.

WHAT: “Waiting For My Real Life”

WHO: Colin Hay

WHERE: SKYCITY Theatre

DATES: Friday 1 May and Saturday 2 May. Both shows start at 7pm.

DURATION: About two hours COST: $55. Bookings through Ticketmaster.

Michael Tarry
2nd May 2015

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