If you only know the Scottish pop-rock band from their sterling run of late 90s radio hits – Say What You Want, Inner Smile, Black Eyed Boy and Summer Son among them – you’d be forgiven for making some assumptions about what you’re going to get from a Texas gig.
The hits, of course, and singer Sharleen Spiteri in fine form. But at a sold-out concert at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on Thursday night, the band’s endlessly charismatic frontwoman delivered a performance that was equal parts pop concert and roast.
The vibe was clear from the moment Spiteri strode on stage for the band’s opener, their classic 1989 debut single (and Aussie top five hit) I Don’t Want A Lover.
She ordered the seated Enmore audience to their feet, arguing that if she had to stand for the whole gig, so did we – which we did, for the next two hours.
From there, Spiteri took hilarious aim at everyone from audience members, her own band and crew, and Australian tour promoters.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of those in the firing line during the Texas concert / Sharleen Spiteri roast:
• Australian tour promoters for their lack of interest in the band. Spiteri explained that their two Australian dates had originally been a scheduled week off between New Zealand festival dates, until the band pushed to book some Aussie gigs. They would love to play more festivals and shows in Australia, she said, but had been told by Australian tour promoters there “wasn’t much interest for Texas” in this country.
“F** off! Sold this place out in about two minutes, didn’t we?” she told the cheering 1700-strong crowd.
• A man in the front row who dared rest his drink on the stage. “What am I standing on right now – would we call this a stage?” she asked the audience. “OK, because I thought I was dancing on a bar,” came the punchline as she told him to remove his drink before she was tempted to kick it into his face.
• A man deep in the audience who closed his eyes during a song: She threatened to come into the audience and tap him on the shoulder to wake him up.
• A woman in the front row who asked for a selfie between songs: “F**king hell. Do I not have better things to do right now than take a photo with you?” she asked (before, it should be noted, kneeling down and posing for several photos).
• Another front row offender, this time a woman caught peeking at the setlist taped to the floor of the stage: “F**king leave it! Can it not be a surprise?” she said, exasperated.
• Yet another man in the audience, this time called out for wearing sunglasses inside, “because it’s so sunny in here.”
• The rest of the band for enjoying a day on Bondi Beach while she had touring commitments – “some of us had to work.”
• The band’s sound manager, standing side of stage, for misplacing her in-ear monitors. She challenged him to fight her on stage then called him out for hiding.
• Sydney’s horribly humid weather, which she summed up with one vivid phrase: “F**k. My. T*ts.” Spiteri noted that as a woman of a certain age (she’s 56), she doesn’t need any more heat in her life.
• Anyone who might have thought she was talking too much between songs: “Stay home and listen to the record; you come to a show for something different.”
• Finally, a pre-warning to anyone who didn’t recognise their closing song – a rousing cover of the Elvis classic Suspicious Minds – by its opening three chords. Those who didn’t immediately know the song were instructed to “f**k off, go home and never go to a gig again.”
This might all sound like a lot, but Spiteri delivered every diss with a wink and a laugh, and never lost the audience with her exasperated f-bombs – quite the opposite, as many in the audience clamoured to get her attention. She noted that Texas audiences tend to follow her lead and be particularly “gobby” (perhaps explained by the results of a quick audience show of hands: At least half those in attendance were Scottish).
And among the rapid-fire roasting, there was some sincerity too: Towards the end of the night, a clearly moved Spiteri thanked the audience for sticking by Texas for what’s now been a 10 album, 35-year career.
She ended with a sincere plea to fans to help the band get back to Australia sooner rather than later, perhaps on a festival bill next time. Here’s hoping it happens.
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