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MKE Concert Pick: Colin Hay brings the total package to the Pabst

Hay Ramos
Colin Hay; Instagram

Milwaukee’s concert scene has a lot going on, so we look at the shows coming up to find the ones you’ll look back on and be glad you went. Then we add them to our weekly Milwaukee Concert Picks.

They say every comedian wishes they were a musician, and vice versa. If you’ve ever heard one try the other — either through awkward audience interactions between songs or painfully unfunny tunes — you know how hard it is to do both at a high level. That’s what makes Colin Hay’s live show such a rarity.

The former Men at Work frontman has built a well-deserved reputation as a consummate showman, capable of rattling off a heartbreaking song and following it up with a dry one-liner that gets the audience rolling. This Thursday, he’ll take those skills to the Pabst Theater stage for a show presented by Riot Fest.

Hay comes by those abilities honestly, having navigated a music career that started when he met Ron Strykert in 1978. The duo became a quartet the next year, and Men at Work released debut album Business as Usual in 1981. The LP eventually reached the top of Billboard’s album chart and, when single “Down Under” led the Hot 100 chart in January of 1983, they became the first Aussie artists to occupy both spots at the same time.

After Men at Work disbanded in 1986, Hay set off on solo endeavors that resulted in hit songs like “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” and “Beautiful World,” as well as several appearances on the big and small screen (Scrubs being a personal favorite). But you can see the real thing live and in person Thursday at a show that starts at 7:30 p.m. (doors at 6:30 p.m.).

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