Tex Perkins & His Band Of Gold @ Regal Ballroom
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Tex Perkins & His Band Of Gold @ Regal Ballroom

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A friend of mine told me recently that she was married 20 years ago in the Regal Ballroom on High Street, Northcote. Back then the establishment was known as Fani’s, and specialised in Greek weddings. The venue survived well beyond the tenure of my friend’s marriage, eventually being re-named the Regal Ballroom and still boasting a good line in lavish wedding receptions.

 

Recently the Regal Ballroom has spread its entertainment wings and started hosting the occasional live music event. The interior set-up is, like the neighbouring Thornbury Theatre, unlike your average inner-urban venue: high ceilings, Mediterranean-style ornaments and a host of round tables at which punters can sit comfortably. The audio engineering is satisfactory, if a long way from perfect; the speakers are all located close to the stage, a set-up better suited to a tedious speech from the proverbial bride’s father than a live show.

 

None of this mattered to Tex Perkins, however, as he slunk on stage to front his Band of Gold. Perkins is the perennial showman, interacting with the audience like a seasoned Hollywood professional. He oozes the brand of natural sexuality that film directors are forever searching for. At one point in the evening Perkins refers to lessons in loving, and makes a passing reference to his fellow vocalist Rachel Tidd’s pregnant form as indicating that she requires no such lessons. In the hands of the average stage performer, it would have been between sexist and manifestly unfunny; in Perkins’ warm embrace, it’s endearing and the crowd laughter is genuine.

 

The set walks through tracks taken from Perkins’ recent album of country rock covers with the Band of Gold: tunes from troubled geniuses such as Townes Van Zandt and Gene Clark are mixed with rugged country stars of the calibre of Kris Kristofferson and George Jones. The Band of Gold (Steve Hadley on bass, Shane Reilly on guitar and Dave Folley on drums) has the added benefit of the services of the very talented Matt Walker; Rachel Tidd’s voice is immaculate and blends hand in glove with Perkins’ charismatic growl.

 

Perkins and his band return to the stage for a rendition of Psycho, the track made famous by the Beasts Of Bourbon almost 30 years ago. A couple more tracks follow, and Perkins leads Tidd off with the aplomb of a southern gentleman. Two weeks earlier Root! had celebrated the Regal Ballroom’s new life with its piss-take on Perkins’ public sexuality, I Wish I Was Tex Perkins. Irony aside, you couldn’t help but feeling it was sentiment shared throughout tonight’s crowd.

 

BY BOB COWPER

 

LOVED: Hearing Psycho for the first time in eons.
HATED: The prohibitively expensive drink prices.
DRANK: Enough not to burn a hole in my pocket.