Colin Hay uses two words to describe his upcoming tour: long and expensive.
The former Men at Work frontman, who now calls Los Angeles home, has returned to the land down under for his biggest solo tour yet.
Hay admits the four-month tour is nothing short of epic.
”Whenever I look at the itinerary I get tired,” he says.
Not that he is any stranger to life on the road.
“I tour all the time. For the last 20 years I’ve been basically on tour. The tours just sort of get busier and busier. This year in particular there seems to be a lot of interest, and I’m doing a month in Australia, which is unusual. So it’s an experiment really to see whether I can do something like this.
”It’s exciting. It’s the most extensive tour I’ve done here for quite a while, and it’s all solo.”
Hay’s shows will take him across the country, from Mandurah to Mooroopna to the Sydney Opera House, before he heads back abroad for a string of performances in the US, Britain and Europe.
His shows attract an eclectic group of fans, from the ageing, diehard Men at Work fans to Gen Y audiophiles who “discovered” his solo work through the soundtracks of Scrubs and Garden State. But Hay says one of his greatest fan experiences occurred just a few nights ago.
“I had this family at a show the other night and the mother said to me that her daughter had asked if they would bring her to see me play … She was nine years old and she had heard my music somewhere … It was extraordinary, I thought.”
So how does touring solo compare to tearing across the country with Men at Work in the 1980s?
“Touring with a band is like being in a gang,” Hay says. “There’s a lot of you, it’s louder, but touring solo is a lot more confronting in a way. Because it’s just you on stage with the audience you have to really do everything. You have to create the world that you and the audience inhabit. You have to create it all, which is a lot on your shoulders.”
But audiences won’t be disappointed with a Colin Hay solo show. He is guaranteed to pull you in with what has become his signature acoustic style: beautiful melodies, guitar licks and pensive lyrics that will stick in your head. Hay simply says, “I just try and write the best songs I can.”
Hay’s own favourite songwriters currently include folk juggernaut Mumford & Sons and Aussie indie darling Sia, an old family friend whom he describes as “one of the greatest songwriters in the world right now”.
Of his upcoming show at the Canberra Theatre, he says, “It’s gonna be great. If people come along they won’t be disappointed.”
Just don’t expect to see any antics left over from the rock’n’roll days of Men at Work. “I can’t kick my leg as high now,” Hay says with a laugh.
Where: Canberra Theatre
When: February 23
Tickets: From $43 at canberratheatrecentre.com.au