Colin Hay – Live at the Corner (DVD review)

Colin Hay – Live at the Corner DVD (Compass Records) DVD review

Americans mostly remember Colin Hay as the lead singer for Men At Work; making goofy faces in the “Who Can It Be Now” and “Down Under” videos of 1982.  The parent album, Business as Usual, spent a staggering 15 weeks at number one and was eventually knocked off the top spot by the even-bigger “Thriller” from you-know-who.  I mention all this because Men at Work were HUGE, selling a combined nine million copies of their first two records.

Yet, even more surprising was how quickly they faded from view – the band released just one more disappointing album before calling it quits.  Since his band’s breakup, Colin Hay has led a rather quiet solo career.  But, as Live at the Corner shows, the Australian singer deserves a second look.  The first thing you notice is that Hay’s voice has deepened a little, but he can still hit the high notes and he’s still got that trademark quiver at the top of his register as well. Some songs find Hay accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, while he’s joined on others by his fine-tuned band.  Great care has been taken in the recording, especially in the impeccable sound quality.  The concert features eight songs from his latest album at the time, 2007’s Are You Lookin’ At Me.

There’s a smattering of his previous solo albums; especially good is his spoken-word introduction before “Waiting For My Real Life to Begin” where he talks about getting dropped by his record company.  Another surprise is how Hay handles his old Men at Work hits: many artists try and “reinterpret” old songs that they’re tired of, but he gives them very faithful readings.  Adding an element of eye candy is Peruvian background vocalist Cecilia Noel, who slinks around the stage. Without a flautist, Noel mimics the beginning of “Down Under” acappella.   The 21-song setlist moves incredibly fast; there’s so many good songs here that you find yourself asking “why is this guy playing a small club”?  He’s improved as a songwriter over the years as well; his great melodies are still here but his lyrics have a deeper, resonating quality.

For proof of Hay’s true prowess as a songwriter, check out “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You.”  If this song doesn’t move you, nothing will.  The DVD features even more songs left off the actual concert, plus a 15 minute monologue that shows that Hay hasn’t lost any of the clever wit that made him a darling of MTV back in their heyday.  Live at the Corner is a very enjoyable concert film.  –Tony Peters