Men at Work was a hugely popular band in its day, and its day did not last terribly long. I quite enjoyed their first two albums (just re-bought the second, Cargo, as I realized I'd never acquired it on CD and/or in digital form), but didn't care for what I heard of the third, and never followed Colin's solo career. So I was quite surprised to find that he actually has had nine solo albums.
The first opening act, Clay Bell, played guitar and sang well, though was aware people were impatient to get to Colin. At one point he asked for requests, and hopeforyou casually shouted out "Blackbird". He played such a good rendition of that classic Beatles song that a hush actually fell over the audience. I was very impressed. The second opener, Rykarda Parasol, was pretty much forgettable however.
Colin opened the concert with the song "What Would Bob Do?" from his latest album, and I was instantly impressed by the strength of his voice, which has changed little since the 80s (he is now 53), and the excellence of his guitar playing. He did a solo show, switching between standard acoustic and 12-string guitars, with some backing vocals provided by his wife later in the set. (I found her vocals and interpretive dance annoying, but Ziggy enjoyed it.)
But the most fun aspect of the performance was Colin's humor. He had a strong Scottish accent (which was also surprising; I hadn't realized he wasn't a native Australian) and peppered his speech liberally with profanity. He lamented how far he'd fallen, from playing crowds of over 100,000 to sub-200-person clubs like this one. He reminisced on how much the band enjoyed smoking pot, and how he wrote their biggest hits while stoned. ("Down By the Sea" was originally 4 hours 40 minutes, he quipped. I could actually see that.) He went on for so long after his first song that some were probably wondering whether they were attending a concert or a comedic monologue; in apparent response he said "Yeah, we'll get through three or four songs tonight."
Even though only three of the songs performed were actually from Men at Work's catalog proper - "Who Can it Be Now" and "Down Under" of course, along with "Overkill", a favorite of mine - I actually enjoyed every song that Colin played. I might get my hands on a couple of his solo albums now; his musicianship is superb.
Even though the sightlines at this club are terrible - from one chair at our table I could only see Colin's head by looking at his reflection in the mirror, truly - I guess I'm going to keep going there, because I've already seen three great 80s acts (Howard Jones, Human League) and I'm sure there will be more. Plus, it feels good to support a neighborhood club, especially one that I'll be performing at myself next month (more on that soon).