The Prince Bandroom with its pink lights, giant disco ball and glittering glam-rock decor wouldn’t generally spring to mind as the ideal venue for an intimate performance, though an intimate performance it was as Tex Perkins swaggered onstage in front of a full house to promote his new album, Tex Perkins and The Band of Gold.

Well before the show began, the mood was set by an indulgently romantic stage set-up, a large crystal chandelier presided over the stage while muted lamplight fell over bouquets of flowers and a beautiful array of instruments.   Soulful Melbourne based singer Angie Hart (formerly of Frente!)  teamed up with instrumental act Blood Red Bird to open the show for Tex and his newest line – The Band of Gold – consisting of the incredibly talented Shannon Bourne on ukulele, guitar and pedal steel, Shane Reilly on guitar, Steve Hadley on double bass, Dave Folley on drums and Rachael Tidd on backing vocals.

Far from the beer-swilling, rip-roaring days of The Beasts of Bourbon, the charismatic front man sipped at a glass of wine, which he refilled from an ice bucket on stage-as he casually worked through a set list comprised of covers from classic country artists such as Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt.  Unlike previous forays with his last band The Dark Horses, Tex refrained from playing guitar for almost the entire set, focusing solely on his gentle, crooning country vocals.

The crowd, though obviously enjoying themselves, were somewhat reserved for the first half of the show, the undeniably competent band seeming almost bored by the simple country riffs being churned out. It was when Tex finally picked up his acoustic guitar and strummed out the chords to ‘Lonely Coming Down’ that a wave of true power washed over a gratified audience, spurring slow dancing among those few who had the room to move.   This energy was carried through the final half of the show by the wonderfully ambient yet powerful musicianship of the band, the stand out tracks of the evening a cover of ‘Gypsy Rider’ by Gene Clark and the equally mournful ‘Kathleen’ by Townes Van Zandt.

Tex’s attitude was confident, at times arrogant, at others conversely self-deprecating; Tex puts on his reviewers voice:  “Tex, not known for his guitar playing, stumbled his way through the first song…” all of which was entirely befitting of a man with nearly three decades of experience on the road.  He has toured with close to ten bands and worked with countless musicians of invincible talent, and though his current style is clearly a step back from his raw country-rock roots, Friday night was living proof that Tex Perkins is still an influential and well-respected figure in the Australian music scene.

–          Jake Vitasovich.