CONSIDERING his fine crop of Vitamin C-coloured hair and nine visits to Australia behind him, it was surprising Irish singing sensation Tommy Fleming had yet to hear the term 'ranga'.
Speaking over the phone from Sydney before jumping in the car to head up the North Coast, mumblings could be heard as Tommy's tour manager quickly briefed him on the origins of the word.
"So are you saying I look like an orangutan," he laughed in that good natured Irish kind of way.
After ensuring him it was a term of endearment Down Under, bestowed upon our red-haired friends and used to describe everyone from newborn babies to the PM, the Irish superstar embraced the new-found term.
"They used to call me Ginger Nuts at school (after the biscuits, in case you were wondering), so I have heard my fair share of nicknames."
While the performer is well-known for his quick wit and light-hearted humour, the spirited artist received a heavy blow last year when he lost both his parents.
"2012 was a terrible year. I was due to come out here last November but had to put things on hold. I feel like coming back now is a good thing to do, getting back to business and having the right people around me, like my band. I have a really good team."
Tommy and his colleagues are heading to the Clarence Valley tomorrow, after a show in Taree, and he said he was looking forward to seeing the Saraton Theatre.
"I've never been to Grafton before," Tommy said.
"Every venue is different so I'm keen to see what working on this stage there will be like."
He said Grafton audiences could expect to hear a few songs from his new album, Begin, as well as a selection from his career which spans more than two decades and 1.5 million album sales worldwide.
"Of course I'll also be singing some Irish classics. It won't all be about the new album."
Although his Australian tour takes him everywhere from Melbourne's Crown Casino and Twin Towns to the Clarence Valley and Ipswich, he said Australian audiences are pretty much the same everywhere.
"It's not like the US where every state can be like a different country. People in Australia are sincerely the best. They get so involved and become part of the show. They completely get my sense of humour," he said.
Whether the Irish jokester will refer to himself as a "ranga" on stage, we'll have to wait and see.
WHAT FAMOUS PEOPLE SAY ABOUT TOMMY FLEMING
- "That voice is truly an instrument of passion," Bishop Desmond TuTu.
- "The best version of Danny Boy - bar none," Eric Clapton.
- "That's one hard act to follow! I hope he doesn't take up acting," Liam Neeson.
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