You may not realise it, but Texas have always been there. Maybe popping up in your brain on an idle Tuesday or keeping you awake at night with the refrain of “I don’t want a lover; I just need a friend.” The Scottish group have never disbanded, and despite some hiatus time (where solo projects were pursued), the group have consistently been releasing music for over 35 years.
So, this week, as Texas returned to the country for the first time in seven years, it was a chance to unleash that inner soundtrack from your soul with two sold out shows that surely proved the demand for not only bigger venues, but more dates or festivals around the country.
Sharleen Spiteri – lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for Texas – was in a cheeky mood at their Enmore Theatre performance suggesting we go backstage and demand more tours from the promoter. This was just one comment amongst a riotous and hugely entertaining evening from the group that will cement their legendary live reputation. After all, this is a band that performed on the Glastonbury stage, just over seven months ago to a crowd of tens of thousands.
“I’m standing, so you’re standing!” shouted Spiteri as she entered the stage to the recognisable opening kick drum of that song in your head, “I Don’t Want a Lover”. The crowd dutifully obeyed and stayed up for the whole show. This was not a show to be seated for.
Starting with arguably their most popular hit and first song ever written, the band laid the foundations for a two-hour performance punctuated with some of the best between song banter you’ll ever hear. Spiteri herself announced that she was in a mischievous mood covering topics as varied as her recent shoulder surgery – “The doctors said I could forget about playing guitar in January, but I said ’Fuck You!’” to the front row patrons getting a bit relaxed, “Thank God you lifted your drink, I thought it was a bar!
The previous day, Sharleen Spiteri was in a hotel room in Melbourne musing about the current state of music consumption, having been through the full range of mediums in her career, “I think you should be able to listen to music in any way you please. As long as you’re listening to it, I don’t give a shit how you’re listening to it!”
The conversation progressed to the news of the day, that Universal were pulling their music from TikTok. “That’s the thing with big companies is that sometimes they’re so far behind that what they pull is the wrong thing to pull. They’ve got to go to the source. If you’re going to do that, you need to take all of the music off every medium, that if you don’t pay, you don’t get it.” She continued. “Because the truth is that TikTok has made so many songs big, massive hits again,” going on to describe her mate, Rick Astley as a prime example of how viral moments can rejuvenate careers.
Returning to the live music at the Enmore and the set rolled between the old – “Halo” and “Thrill Has Gone”, the new – “Keep on Talkin’” and everything in between – “In Demand” and “The Conversation”. The music was so seamlessly solid, but Spiteri could only play guitar for a couple of songs at a time, having had shoulder surgery just before Christmas. Tony McGovern held down the guitar lines expertly, whilst Johnny McElhone’s bass was a constant force, seated or not (Spiteri would later blame a big night in Melbourne on this!). Eddie Campbell on keys and a precise and powerful performance from Cat Myers on drums drove the band forward as Spiteri roamed across the stage with limitless energy the entire set.
Even if you didn’t know the full catalogue of the band, you couldn’t help but enjoy the show and that’s the sign of a band that knows how to entertain. The final two songs of the main set, “Black Eyed Boy” and “Say What You Want” still stand up as perfectly constructed rock songs and the energy from the audience for the encore proved that two hours is not nearly enough when you’re having such a great time.
Also, we couldn’t get enough of the Scottish accent and wit of the lead singer. From crowd participation – we all sang, loudly and sometimes badly, in unison with the singer on multiple occasions – to laughing along at her observations on the heat of Sydney – “Fuck my tits – at my age I don’t need more heat!” to the hugely vocal and parochial Scottish contingent that Spiteri referred to as “gobby”, the whole show was perfectly balanced between the fantastic music and everything in between.
On the other side of town – at exactly the same time – a hip-hop duo from Los Angeles were playing a sold-out Oxford Art Factory. Their name? Paris Texas. Inspired from the very same movie as Texas, this duo was also doing what they do best, albeit to a vastly different demographic.
When this coincidental fact was revealed to Spiteri, she laughed, “That’s fantastic! I always love that kind of stuff,” she continued, “I hope we run into them, I’m going to have to go and check out their music now. The fantastic thing is that I can come off this interview to you and that I can literally go on to my phone and put the name of the band in, find the music, and listen to it like that fast.”
This also inspired some whimsy about how young people listen to music, “That is an amazing thing to do, you know, it’s opened up so many youngsters cause there’s no snobbishness. They just hear something they like. They like it. They don’t like it. They’re not thinking. Oh, that’s an old record or that’s this record. That’s that record. So, it’s brilliant. It’s broken down so many boundaries.”
After discussing Spiteri’s thoughts on how music is consumed online, to how it is appreciated in live performances, to just enjoying her time on stage and tour, it was all brought home by her very honest and moving farewell to the crowd that had been hanging off her every word at The Enmore. With two shows that have surely reminded everyone just how good they are, a Texas return to Australia with more dates will surely be in the minds of many fans and hopefully promoters.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Texas played at the Enmore Theatre on the 1st Feb, 2024.
Photo credit: Pete Dovgan