Colin Hay’s still a man at work

May 24, 2024 BY

Hay was part of the 63rd edition of the Vina del Mar music festival in Chile, held in February this year. Photo: ADRIANA THOMASA/EPA

Prepare for an unforgettable night as Colin Hay, the legendary voice of Men at Work, brings his dynamic presence to Geelong on June 29.

Known for his compelling stage presence, Hay promises an evening filled with timeless hits and storytelling that spans decades.

Hay’s journey has been marked by resilience and reinvention.

Since his days with Men at Work, he has carved out a successful solo career, characterised by a distinct blend of humour, introspection, and melodic craftsmanship.

“Every song is a snapshot of a moment in time,” Hay said.

“Whether it’s from my early days in Australia or my life now in Los Angeles, each song tells a story.

“I think that’s why people connect with them – because they see a part of their own lives in the music.”

Hay said he hadn’t decided on the set list yet.

Hay (centre) with his band, including, from Cuba, SanMiguel Perez (guitar/tres/vocals), Yosmel Montejo(bass/vocals) and Jimmy Branly (drums). Rounding out the front line is Peru’s Cecilia Noël (percussion/vocals) and Grammy Award-winning Scheila Gonzalez (keyboard/flute/sax/vocals). Photo: SUPPLIED


“There are always six or seven songs from Men at Work that seem to work really well.

“We’ll probably also include tracks from my solo records over the last 30 years and maybe a few songs from a covers record I did a couple of years ago.”

The tour comes on the heels of a remarkable couple of years for Hay.

In 2022, he released his 15 studio album, Now and the Evermore, followed by a solo tour of the UK and a US tour with The Beatles’ Ringo Starr.

Joining Hay on this tour are his band members, each a legend in their own right.

San Miguel Perez from Cuba brings his expertise on guitar, tres, and vocals, while fellow Cuban Yosmel Montejo handles bass and vocals.

Drummer Jimmy Branly, also from Cuba, adds his rhythmic prowess to the mix.

Hay’s wife, Cecilia Noël, is a Peruvian-born Latin music artist known for her vibrant performances and eclectic musical style. She rounds out the ensemble with Grammy Award-winning musician Scheila Gonzalez from Guatemala, who plays keyboard, flute, saxophone, and provides vocals.

“I steal most of the musicians that I work with from my wife,” Hay said, laughing.

“She knows a lot more musicians than I do.”

“A few years ago, she did a record in Cuba, and she went there and she did this record called Havana Rocks.

“She met this guy, San Miguel Perez, who played the tres, which is a traditional Cuban instrument, and she tried to find him again and he’d defected to the United States with a number of other musicians.

“And so Cecilia said ‘Come over to LA and work with me.’

“I would hear them playing and I thought ‘Oh, these guys sound really good’.

“I was recording some stuff downstairs, and I said ‘Come down and play on these songs.’

“I started working with them as well.”

Colin Hay received the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music at the 2023 APRA Music Awards. Photo: JAMES GOURLEY/AAP IMAGE


“So basically, that’s the band. It’s a band of three Cubans, a Guatemalan, a Peruvian, and me.”

In recognition of his contributions to Australian music, Hay was honoured with the Ted Albert Award by APRA in 2023.

The timeless 1981 hit ‘Down Under’ received the prestigious Billions Award from APRA, recognising over a billion streams – a testament to its enduring popularity.

The song’s resurgence in 2022 was further amplified by Luude’s reimagined drum’n’bass version, which reached number 5 on the UK’s top 40 and number 2 on the ARIA charts.

Additionally, King Stingray’s rendition of “Down Under” in Yolngu Matha featured in a global Tourism Australia campaign, cementing its status as an anthem that transcends generations.

As for new material, Hay hinted at the possibility of debuting a couple of new songs on the tour.

“Yeah, there might be a couple of songs that sneak in,” he said.

Beyond the tour, Hay remains busy with various projects, including playing in Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.

“I’ve been playing with Ringo since 2003, off and on.

“They just asked me if I was interested in going out on the road, and I’ve been doing it regularly since 2018.

“They must have a list of people, and they figure out if you can still stand up, play songs, and sing. If you can, you’re in the running,” he said.

Men at Work – Greg Ham, Ron Strykert, Colin Hay, Jerry Speiser and John Rees – won a Grammy Award for best new artist in 1982. Photo: AP


Despite his busy schedule, Hay finds solace in his Los Angeles home.

“After the Australian tour, I’ll have July and August to myself,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to spending time in my basement studio, working on some tunes, and just hanging out.

“Maybe taking the dog for a walk and having some food – nothing huge, just enjoying the simple things.”

As Hay and his band prepare to hit the road, they promise an experience that is both endearing and electrifying.

Whether you’ve been a fan since the Men at Work days or discovered his music more recently, this tour is an opportunity to witness a living legend and master storyteller with his world-class band in action.

“The message through my performances? Really, it’s just that I’m still here,” he said.

Colin Hay will perform at Costa Hall, Geelong on June 29.

For more information, head to colinhay.com

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