Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Thick necked and sweaty as a bore, Tex Perkins is at first sight more lumberjack, less minstrel. But as any number of his fan-base will tell you, this is all part of his appeal. A man’s man with a breakable heart, who can drink his mates under the table, come home late and then write a song for his lover to make amends. Women want him, and men want to be him, and to top it off he plays a mean guitar solo and sings in tune.

Perkins’ heyday as a mid-level rock/sex god was the late 80’s/early 90’s, fronting bands The Beasts of Bourbon and The Cruel Sea. Known for his riotous onstage antics – he has performed naked, and once inside a giant condom – Perkins has always guaranteed a great live show, and so, not quite knowing what to expect, I joined the throng of mostly middle aged (no emo tweens in sight) punters for his show at The Metro on Saturday night.

Swaggering onto the stage in a shroud of smoke and with beer in hand, Perkins and band launched into a lively and varied set, beginning on a poignant note (“She speaks a different language but I seem to understand …”). From there they swerved to black humour (“On Sundays I perform miracles, I turn paycheques into wine...”), and then to the utterly ridiculous as a pornographic educational video rolled whilst Perkins warbled on about “reeeeaaaaal love.” Long-time collaborator Charlie Owen was a highlight on the classical guitar, although the entire band were solid and each and every member quirky in his own way, especially Joel Silbershier (on bass) who, at surely no bigger than 5ft 5”, provided comic relief simply by standing next to the hulking Perkins, let alone with his squawking vocal moonlights and funny little clapping interludes.

While this gig showcased a somewhat more mellowed Tex Perkins as compared to the pub-rock-sex-symbol-Perkins of the 90’s, there was no compromise in entertainment value. The audience sang, laughed and cheered; the band hammed around and played with gusto (and considerable skill); it was good times all round. I should also make mention of Jordie Lane, a Melbourne up and comer (although by Australian indie standards he has already up and come) who, with his band, was the support act for the night. One part old school troubadour, one part rockabilly, Lane has a delicious, classic voice that is to the ear as buttered rum might be to the tongue, and woos his audience with a confidence which belies his years.

And so, with mock tears and much silliness, Perkins group-hugged his band, bid his amorous audience goodnight, and was gone. The venue emptied pronto with punters most likely racing home to their baby sitters, while my girlfriend and I surveyed the mass exodus, quietly amused that we had enjoyed the gig every bit as much as these sweaty 30-somethings. And secretly, I may just have a bit of a crush on Tex Perkins myself . . .