Tex Perkins

with Lisa Mitchell

It has been pretty amazing to see how the community has banded together around those affected by the bush fires, and the music community has been a big part of that, with many benefit gigs being organised.


On this occasion Tex Perkins has decided to do his part, playing songs from his vast back catalogue supported by Lisa Mitchell and also Dan Sultan with Scott Wilson. Perkins has been a prolific vocalist over the past 20 plus years, with acts such as the Cruel Sea, Beasts of Bourbon, Tex, Don and Charlie, the Dark Horses and most recently his piss-take cover band the Ladyboyz.


I arrive as Lisa Mitchell is sound checking; like Mitchell, the crowd is very thin at this stage.


Evidently I've missed Dan Sultan and Scott Wilson, this is unfortunate, so I go to the bar for a drink. Soon, the very pretty Mitchell, with her pretty voice and pretty songs is ready to go. She begins with radio hit ‘Stevie' and is wearing a velvet jacket, she says she realises it is hot but "won't play without it," fair enough.


The crowd builds during the set. There is a mix of young pretty girls and aging rockers, which makes sense considering the lineup. Her voice shines. I hear people whisper insightful things like "gee she can sing" to their friends, handy considering her profession.


Mitchell is playing tonight without a backing band, which works fine for most of the set, but it means her biggest song and closer, ‘Neopolitan Dreams', is without xylophone. I seem to be the only one shattered by that, such an underused instrument in pop music these days.


The crowd continues to build until big Tex waltzes onto stage. He is one charismatic dude, immediately challenging someone in the crowd to a duel.


The man declines and instead they play a Cruel Sea track, ‘Million Dollar Hoe', but mid song Tex singles out two girls in front of the stage for chatting loudly:


"These two girls are talking their fucking faces off. Please move to the back of the room immediately"


They think he's joking...


"No seriously. Go to the back of the room, we're trying to provide some entertainment here."


The crowd applaud.


He is backed by two of his long time collaborators, James Cruickshank and Charlie Owen. We are treated to a fairly vast array of tunes from Tex's twenty plus year career. His dry sense of humour is appreciated.


He states that they are about to challenge the audience by playing a "lively instrumental," which explains in great detail Tex's theory on evolution.


"I was born in Darwin after all, get it? get it?" Ah yes, so consciously lame, you have to enjoy that. The song was ‘Great Apes' by the Dark Horses, it finishes with the refrain "We are apes, the greatest apes of all," an instrumental with singing is challenging I suppose, "I told you I'd spell it out for you," he declares.


The crowd sings along to the Cruel Sea's ‘It Won't Last', probably the most recognisable original song played for the night, with radio hits ‘Better Get a Lawyer' and ‘Honeymoon is Over' omitted. Though the first set is dominated by Cruel Sea, Beasts of Bourbon and Dark Horses songs, they are able squeeze in a Butcher Shop song, ‘Hard for You', off the 1988 EP of the same name.


It has a very different sound from the rest of the set, much chunkier. Tex thinks out loud that it was a risky choice. "How did you rate it? About a 6?" someone in the crowd disagreed, "A 10!" "Really? 10? Take it easy!" I agree though, it is one of the highlights of the night. Tex continues to banter with the crowd.


"You have no idea how lucky you are! But you are about to find out..."


He introduces Tim Rogers to the stage. Together they recorded and toured as T'n'T in 2006. They play two of their tongue in cheek tracks, ‘Half of Nothing' and ‘Cunnilingus'. The latter song took us on a journey through the history of that fine art (it was outlawed by Christians in 46AD apparently.)


This signals the end of the set.


The inevitable encore brings the boys back out in Ladyboyz mode (minus the sharp white suits) for their distinctive version of 10cc's soft rock anthem ‘I'm Not in Love'...it is a good sing-a-long for the crowd, who are in on the joke.


Next up is an old country song, ‘Psycho', originally by Leon Payne, which Tex recorded with the Beasts of Bourbon. It's a quaint little song about mass murder. Again they signal the end of the show... but as Tex is walking off, he makes it clear that they want us to call for another encore.


The second encore is to auction a framed Beasts of Bourbon tour poster, because this night is about raising money for the bushfire appeal after all. Someone asks if the poster is signed, Tex laughs as if he finds it amusing that anyone would care if it was signed or not.


"I will shit on it if you like. My DNA will be all over it!"


It ends up being sold for $450. The sum of money leaves Tex speechless, well at least he says it does, as he continues talking. Local writer and comedian Matt Hardy is invited on stage for a rendition of their tune about 1970s Carlton footballer, Alex Jesaulenko, which he co-wrote with Perkins.


A slightly odd choice for a closer, but it further illustrates Tex's love of the collaboration. He is often described as a restless musician, always looking for new projects to work on.


During the night Tex told us he had a lump in his pants, turned out he was talking about a hernia which would be removed shortly. Leaving I feel I have a metaphorical lump in my pants of the more positive variety. Though the night was born out of tragedy, it felt really life affirming to be there.

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