"The most common reaction," says Tim Minchin of those who haven't seen him live before, "is 'holy f$%# it's like proper music, he can play like a motherf$%#er'." Yes, he really can.
A man who wears many creative hats, Tim Minchin is best known for writing multi-award-winning musical Matilda, hilarious television series Upright (that he writes and stars in), and some seriously entertaining tunes. Minchin's honesty, humour and lack of pretention - which comes through in every one of his song lyrics - was on full disarming display as he discussed his upcoming New Zealand shows.
The 45-year-old Australian musician – yes, despite his ludicrously impressive list of skills and accomplishments, he still refers to himself humbly as a "muso" - will be arriving in New Zealand in just a few weeks to resume the delayed encore tour of his raved-about live show, Back.
Minchin will be playing shows in Auckland as part of the Auckland Live Cabaret season and he is looking forward to reconnecting with the "fantastic audiences" he has always found in Aotearoa.
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A cabaret festival is oddly a rather perfect fit for Minchin, who loves the sense of the "other" the term "cabaret" evokes, an idea that sits very well with him. "I called myself a cabaret artist in the early days," he confesses, before going on to say that cabaret is "queer and outsidey ... it's not going to be mainstream. I am stoked to be part of it."
While Minchin's musical style could never be defined as "mainstream" there is something about it that is universally accessible. Touching on everything from infidelity to how women in SUVs always look miserable, Minchin's latest album is like a well-crafted and melodic mirror being held up to the listener. Which, it turns out, is just what he planned. "When I say 'what happens if I die on this plane', it should tap into those feelings in everyone," says Minchin of his introspective track, If this Plane Goes Down, which he plans to open his New Zealand shows with.
"If I am doing my job, the show is seductive," says Minchin, but warns it is best to leave all expectations at the door. "Some people have seen Prejudice and Dark Side on YouTube," Minchin says of two of his live performance videos that have racked up million upon millions of views, and "I want to say to them: 'you'll be alright, but just throw your expectations out for me'."
If you spend some time on YouTube watching Minchin's most popular videos and reading the user comments, you are struck by one stark fact: he is beloved. One comment that stood out asked the question: "Is it just me or should Tim Minchin be the most famous man in the world?" It is hard not to agree as his talent for performance borders on the obscene, but, for such an "authentic" man and musician, it wouldn't be the right fit, or perhaps that is just a selfish desire to keep him all to ourselves.
Tim Minchin 'Back' tour dates are:
•Thursday June 17, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington
•Saturday, June 19, The Civic, Auckland (sold out)
•Sunday, June 20, The Civic, Auckland (new show)
•Friday, June 25, Town Hall, Christchurch