Tim Minchin's homecoming show: 'I will make you cry'

Hota, Gold Coast
Australia’s funniest national treasure utterly unafraid to take the piss out of everyone

For his first proper concert on home soil in three years, Tim Minchin had two running jokes: the first lampooned the Gold Coast’s mayor Tom Tate; the second was his desire to marry Pink, his idol.

Minchin, of course, is already wed to his childhood sweetheart, Sarah Minchin, whom he met aged 17 (the pair have two children). But that didn’t stop Australia’s funniest national treasure – the brain behind the smash hit Matilda the Musical – bemoaning that he isn’t half as good as Pink, who he, and apparently the mayor, both have a giant musical crush on.

Outside of a warm-up show in Sydney last week, the gig was the first Australian concert Minchin has given this year, after moving back to his home country in December.

That makes it all the more of a win for Gold Coast’s Hota (Home of the Arts), which on Saturday unveiled its spanking new $37.5m outdoor venue: a black spaceship-like amphitheatre which looks suspiciously like it has just crawled out of the Terminator franchise.

Within 45 minutes of opening to the public, the allocation of 3,500 tickets for the free concert was exhausted. Watching Minchin in the flesh, playing alongside the guitarist Jak Housden from the Whitlams, it’s no surprise. Here is a man who, with the help of a piano, and, at times, a seven-piece band, commands the mostly middle-aged audience with aplomb. (“Famously, my audiences are very aggressive and high on meth,” he deadpans.) Minchin, wearing his trademark scarecrow hair down, with bare feet and skinny jeans accessorised with black kohl-ringed eyes and a glass of red wine, struts around the stage, less rock star and more Captain Jack Sparrow. And he is utterly unafraid to take the piss out of everyone and everything, including himself.

That ability to stir the shit means no one is spared. That includes Gold Coast mayor “old mate Tommy Tate”, who, Minchin confides to the audience, was wary about him playing the inaugural concert – and who apparently wanted Pink instead.

“He said he wasn’t sure if I was the right person to open this venue,” Minchin says with a shrug. “In fact, I’m two songs in and I’m still not sure. Old mate,” he shouts, “I hope you’re still here because I will make you cry and you’ll know why people book me.”

At another point Minchin calls out: “Old Mate Tom Tate ... is he still here or has he gone home?” To which (according to the Gold Coast Bulletin) the mayor replies, “I’m over here, you dickhead!”

Tim Minchin plays Hota
Tim Minchin: ‘Famously, my audiences are very aggressive and high on meth.’ Photograph: Lexi Spooner

Minchin, 42, has moved home after 12 years abroad, including a four-year stint in Hollywood where he directed the $100m animated movie Larrikins, starring Hugh Jackman. In surely the hardest blow to his career so far, the film was dropped last March $50m in, a result of Comcast’s acquisition of DreamWorks.

It’s fitting, then, that Minchin starts the night with a new work titled If This Plane Goes Down.

Another song, which, unusually for Minchin is a cover, seems to express his crushing disappointment with a rare raw honesty. Charlie Rich’s Feel Like Going Home is nothing short of a lament. “Lord I feel like going home,” go the lyrics. “I tried and I failed and I’m tired and weary.”

For all this, Minchin is best when he lampoons the trend of virtue signalling – nowhere better than in his classic Confessions. A song in three movements, the first addresses feminism – “I think we men are pathetic / How we seem to judge aesthetic / As the measure of a woman’s worth” – before launching into a bright burbling celebration of, well, his love of boobs.

From the reaction of the audience who, after a volley of fireworks and a last long flourish on the piano, erupts into a standing ovation, people are ready to laugh at their own righteousness. After the final song is played, and Minchin flounces off stage, finally back home, I overhear a teenage girl whispering in awe: “Better than Pink. Far out.”

Guardian Australia was a guest of the Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast


Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

The GuardianTramp

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