Live Review: Tex Perkins & The Dark Horses

17 August 2012 | 2:05 pm | Mary Bolling

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Does anything scream “ageing rocker” more than “exclusive Sunday afternoon cocktail bar”? And it's no ordinary cocktail bar that Beasts Of Bourbon frontman Tex Perkins has stumbled upon; he is in the empire of celebrity chef Shannon Bennett – his Lui Bar, at oh-so-hot Vue de Monde, is on the 55th floor of the Rialto. But if anyone can take a cliché, crack it open, and still cash in, Perkins is that man. And let's face it, he's been around long enough to pull it off. “This is a corporate meeting,” he pompously informs the well-heeled crowd. His stage is backed by a sweeping view of Melbourne's north; his guitar keeps banging avant garde lampshades. “You'll be much more productive by the end of the show.”

Playing with Dark Horses, Charlie Owen and Stephen Hadley, Tex kicks off with his Tex, Don & Charlie back-catalogue – Here I Am and Sundays are situation-appropriate – before hushing the cocktail-filled crowd. “I won't ask again,” he gravely intones. It's deep enough to command respect – at least a song's worth. They know Perkins is big enough to hack a bit of chatter.

And Tex has their measure too. Introducing Paul Kelly's You're 39, You're Beautiful and You're Mine, he confesses his carnal devotion to middle-aged ladies: “They've got plenty of time on their hands.” Blokes scuff the floor, as baby boomer ladies squawk: “39 is not middle-aged!” Tex, however, has given up the pretences of a rocker in his prime. Seductive charms have been traded for dad jokes: “I've never been higher than this,” he deadpans. The setting winter sun gives the city a brief golden glow, and the show rolls on. “I think we have to face the facts – we're closer to the end than the beginning.”

And beginning to end, there's not a growl out of place, nor a twang of Charlie Owen's slide guitar that doesn't send shivers. The Neil Young cover is a good idea, and Tex can banter with the best of them. It's not meant to be a rock show, and comes off more like a well-attended, high-end studio session. There's no encore – Perkins has done what he was paid (no doubt handsomely) to do. It's possible he's already sprinting down 55 flights of stairs, and back to his rock'n'roll roots at a dirty pub. I hope his heart holds out.

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