Men at Work are getting back to work. Group leader Colin Hay has decided to resurrect the Australian band – best known for their early Eighties hits “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now?” – for their first tour since disbanding in 2002. The tour kicks off in Manchester, UK on June 20th and wraps up in Milan, Italy on July 10th. As of now, there are no U.S. dates.
Hay says he was inspired to launch this tour after spending 2018 on the road with Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band. “Every night we would play each other’s hits, and it was most enjoyable,” he wrote on his website. “The audience’s appetite for those old tunes is insatiable. I started to wonder about the feasibility of mounting a European tour with my band to play primarily those dear old songs.”
Hay is the only original member of Men At Work that will be in the lineup. “The band will consist of myself, and my group of amazing L.A. based musicians, whom I’ve worked with over the last few years,” he wrote. “The set list obviously will feature all the known and even lesser-known Men At Work songs, perhaps with a couple of later songs thrown in, but make no mistake, it will be a Men At Work show, billed as such so that the people know they will be coming to hear a Men At Work set list!”
Men At Work dissolved in 1986 after recording just three albums. Their first two albums (1981’s Business as Usual and 1983’s Cargo) were enormous hits all over the world, but the group melted down around the time they recorded 1985’s Two Hearts and by the time they hit the road to support it, only Hay and multi-instrumentalist Greg Ham remained. The group dissolved shortly after the tour wrapped. Hay and Ham reformed Men At Work in 1996 for a series of tours, but retired from the road in 2002 when Hay decided to resume his solo career.
Ten years later, Ham was found dead in his home after reportedly suffering a heart attack. A court had recently ruled that the group stole the flute riff for “Down Under” from the 1930s children’s song “Kookaburra” and Ham was despondent as that was his part in the song. “I’m terribly disappointed that that’s the way I’m going to be remembered,” Ham said, “for copying something.”
This upcoming tour will be the first time that Hay has played as Men At Work without Ham. “He is gone but never forgotten, and his contribution to the sound and personality of the band, is forever,” Hay wrote. “I loved being in Men At Work. I had a plan. I loved writing those songs, and I am in awe of what we managed to achieve in such a short time. It was powerful, though short lived.”