Live Review: Texas – 17th September 2017 – Royal Albert Hall, London, UK
Glasgow pop rockers Texas have always been one of my favorite bands. Growing up – and even to this day – the majority of my playlists are occupied by pop tunes of the eighties and nineties with a handful of edgier acts making the cut from time to time. The Glaswegians made a heavy impact on my glossy pop musical upbringing as a teenager with their brand of Americanized pop/rock when their international breakthrough record, White On Blonde made its ways to the top of the charts back in 1997 and I’ve followed and adored the outfit ever since. I’ve been been lucky enough to see the collective a handful of times over the past 15 years but it was last nights phenomenal performance at the elegant Royal Albert Hall that will forever stay in my mind as Texas’ finest live moments and one of the best performances of any act that I have been witness to.
The bands impressive back catalogue was out on full display during the solid 20 song set with the band revisiting most of their studio albums, with the exception of 1991’s Mother’s Heaven, 2003’s Careful What You Wish For and 2005’s Red Book.
Early hits Everyday Now and Thrill Has Gone offered the sold out venue a fine snapshot from the collectives debut album, Southside while So Called Friend offered a token Ricks Road classic to the evening.
The bands previous studio release The Conversation also made a brief appearance with the albums lead single and title track injecting a heavy dose of Americana to the middle of the set as outspoken and confident front woman Sharlene Spiteri threw the spotlight in the direction of guitarist Tony McGovern who delivered the tracks catchy steel string guitar hook while Spiteri paced the stage and fist pumped through the infectious number.
With the bands latest release, Jump On Board still warm on the shelves, some of the records finest additions found a place amongst the bands more prominent career highlights. Lead single Let’s Work It Out was dished up early on in the set beneath a blanket of yellow disco ball lighting and follow up single Tell That Girl made an impression on the crowd with its more edgy and rock-tinged delivery.
As Jump On Board was dished up through other album singles including Midnight and latest release Can’t Control, it was the bands 90’s hits that had everyone in the venue up on their feet and belting out alongside Spiteri who welcomed the audiences participation throughout the night.
The Hush was generous within the set with lead single In Our Lifetime and When We Are Together performed as well as heard on the original recording while Summer Son made a storming entrance to a crowd eager to lap up every throbbing note from the seasoned and tight Texas band.
While the majority of the night was dedicated to tracks that had the Scottish outfit and the crowd on their feet and stomping along to the bands nostalgic repertoire, Spiteri offered sentimental moments periodically; Greatest Hits collection hit In Demand found a nesting place later in the set with the crowd holding lit up phones in the air and swaying along to the singer and the tracks acoustic unveiling while the bands Al Green cover of Tired Of Being Alone found Spiteri sending keyboardist Michael Bannister of stage to perform at his instrument for the vocal-shining hit.
As with all Texas performances, the bands White On Blonde era drew the biggest reactions from the audience with Say What You Want and Black Eyed Boy allowing the sold out crowd to exercise their sing-a-long skills to two of the bands most successful singles following a superb performance of 1989 hit, I Don’t Want A Lover.
Welcomed back on stage to a thunderous applause, Spiteri offered the audience a surprise duet with Clare Grogan from fellow Scottish nu-wave band Altered Images; a band that she shared with Texas founding member Johnny McElhone, adding further sentiment to her inclusion and as a way to “bring Glasgow To London” as Spiteri announced. Dressed in a sparkly bronze suit, Grogan was given the honors of performing one of her bands biggest hits, I Could Be Happy as McElhone beamed from behind and Spiteri propelled the track with her powerful backing vocals. Grogan then helped the band deliver a mind-blowing performance of Inner Smile which transformed the venue into one giant nightclub as Spiteri prowled the stage with an Elvis-inspired swagger before closing the 20-song set with Elvis hit Suspicious Minds.
Spiteri, who was dressed in a black suit, white print t-shirt and white pumps, was on top form from the opening chord right through to the final note of the show; vocally soaring through the venue with sheer force and precision. As he band mates offered superbly executed instrumentation to the set, Spiteri’s vocal prowess remained flawless and unweathered from the between verse shouts that she let out periodically; showcasing an exuberant performer as full of as much enthusiasm and passion for her craft as the day the band erupted onto the international stage back in 1989. The musician also remained the bolshy, unfiltered front woman we have all come to know her as during the bands performance. Her vocabulary visited almost every swear word known as she played around with her band and her audience. There was no innocence in her performance last night and no need to hold back from being 100% herself in a venue that caters to the most elegant of events. As Spiteri declared, “at 50 I’m definitely a fucking woman” and to that the venue erupted in approval.
There were no moving stage parts, no expensive visuals, no costume changes, just sheer talent, passion and hit after hit from, in my opinion and I’m sure one that is shared by many of those at last nights show, Scotland’s finest musical export. Live, Texas are a force to be reckoned with. Of the hundreds of concerts I have been to over the years, few have been as robust, as solid, as hit-filled and as entertaining as last nights Texas spectacle.
Let’s Work It Out
When We Are Together
In Our Lifetime
Tell That Girl
Thrill Has Gone
Tired of Being Alone (Al Green cover)
So Called Friend
I Don’t Want a Lover
Black Eyed Boy
Say What You Want
I Could Be Happy (Altered Images cover and duet with Clare Grogan)