Tex Perkins & The Dark Horses

Tex Perkins & The Dark Horses
The Famous Spiegeltent | 27 February 2013

Tex Perkins is a master of character when performing in his various musical groups, and with The Dark Horses this evening he’s donning the hat of cowboy troubadour to spellbind Spiegeltent showgoers. Perkins sings and plays harmonica as he and his five cronies kick off with the plodding instrumentation of What Do You Want Now? from their self-titled 2011 album. He informs the crowd that his harmonica playing will be his only display of real musicianship tonight, as he is suffering from tennis elbow.

His between-song banter is light and engaging; he’s a great frontman, performing with a good mix of entertainment and humour. The music is simple, but it’s dark and finely sculpted. Clear male harmonies throughout add texture to the natural songcraft, and instrument-swapping between band members keeps the set fresh and interesting. Some of the crowd almost look embarrassed and smiles break out when Perkins busts out the ‘F’ word in Halo, as if swearing is a little bit naughty in such a sedate environment.

Word To Come is pure melancholy country music – if you close your eyes you can almost smell the dry dirt being kicked up beneath the hooves of your trusty steed as your cowboy hat slides down over your sweaty forehead. The band are relaxed yet tight in form until there is a sound problem during an important guitar solo for Joel Silbersher. Perkins, the consummate showman, instructs the band mid-song to “Go around again!”, and they play a few repeats of the chord sequence so Silbersher can have another go. Silbersher’s comment after the song – “What you didn’t hear just then was some of the best guitar work I’ve ever played” – adds to the lighthearted fun of the show.

An iced bucket full of beers appears on demand and Perkins proceeds to sing To Us entirely to his beer bottle – gazing at it, fondling it, and taking well-timed slugs as he sings. For the encore a pink-covered wicker chair is brought out, Perkins slumps in it and sings Getting Away With It, a slow song that builds with haunting electric guitar. As he exits with a final “Goodbye… forever!”, this ultimate theatrical larrikin knocks over his mic stand and leaves with a cheeky smile.

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