Colin Hay, still best known as the frontman for the Australian rockers Men at Work, got a boost for his less prominent solo career when one of his ballads appeared on the recent Grammy-winning soundtrack for the film "Garden State." But he's not exactly basking in newfound popularity: At the Birchmere on Monday night, the Scottish-born singer-songwriter, who now lives in California, said he had just been arrested in Malibu for not being famous enough.
His core fans, though, remain faithful, and it's easy to understand why. His opening solo set offered a sturdy mix of acoustic ballads, including the "Garden State" track "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You," and droll commentaries on the recording industry and Hollywood. A funny anecdote concerning an encounter with Jack Nicholson prefaced a crisp rendition of the vintage "Looking for Jack."
For the second half, Hay brought out a band, often performing songs from his Men at Work days without a hint of waning enthusiasm. He appeared to have a particularly warm place in his heart for the neo-psychedelic "Down by the Sea," noting that the song was composed under the influence of marijuana and was originally "4 hours and 40 minutes long." The crowd, on the other hand, was clearly more eager to revisit "Down Under," which instantly triggered a rhythmically thumping '80s flashback. All the while, Cecilia Noel, Hay's backup singer and wife, twirled and gyrated endlessly across stage, as if unaware that she wasn't the evening's headliner.
-- Mike Joyce