Men at Work - live in Grantville (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Men at Work

live in Grantville (2022)

live show

“As you can see, we’re still the original band,” Colin Hay said with a straight face at Men at Work’s Grantville, PA show on August 20, 2022. And of course, the five people standing behind Hay were clearly NOT the original Men at Work. The Scottish/Australian singer then winked at the crowd before snapping into the band’s next number, thereby underscoring just what Men at Work means in 2022.

Of course, in the ‘80s, the band was constantly on the radio with a string of killer pop singles. But, since the band folded in the mid ‘80s, Hay re-invented himself as a singer-songwriter, walking a line between Bob Dylan and Jim Croce. So, for the past four decades, it’s been unclear just how Hay feels about Men at Work. Is he massively proud of the band who wrote amazing, perfectly crafted tunes? Or, does he feel the past is the past?

It seemed like both at the Grantville show. For one thing, the band sounded AMAZING. No doubt this is because “Men at Work 2022” is really just Hay and his backing band doing MAW numbers. That’s the way to play it. When singers who are in legacy bands snatch up a set of session players, the results are often “competent” but not great. But, because Hay and his band already have chemistry, the tunes just POPPED.

Basically, they played all the big hits from the first two MAW albums. Perhaps surprisingly, the band opened with the slow burn “touching the untouchables.” Let me tell you, Hay sounds FANTASTIC. His voice is still the rich, bold, boom heard on the first MAW singles and he pretty much looks the same too. When he sings, it sounds like he cut “Who can it be now” last week. That alone caused the crowd to spark. The fact that the master of songcraft and sing-craft is STILL at the top of his game, was a real thrill, especially since it has been so long since MAW have played the USA.

And while the set was wisely hit heavy, a few small surprises were thrown in. “Down by the sea” got an almost trippy, extended middle section. “It’s a mistake” was given a high charged drive, which reflected back to the tune’s ska influence.

And of course, the big whammers all got a play. “Down Under” and “Who can it be now” sounded impeccable. The band ended with an extended tromp through “Be good Johnny.” The tunes were amazing.

About three times, Hay took to the mic to reflect on MAW’s early days. At one point, he talked about how some whacky grass inspired a song. At another, he talked about how some of the big hits developed. Thankfully, he didn’t pull on the “remember the ‘80s” string at all. Men at Work are a fantastic group and these songs are great sings from any time period.

That’s why it was so interesting to watch Hay on stage. Throughout the 90s and 00s, it did seem like Hay didn’t want to get stapled to his earlier work. But, on stage, while he didn’t revel in too much nostalgia, Hay really did seem to be working hard at making these tunes sound impeccable live. And they did. And I’ve been waiting to see Men at Work for 28 years- ever since I got some budget “hits” CD from a bookstore. It was well worth the wait. But… I hope I don’t have to wait nearly as long to see them again.