There can’t be many bands that have been going for over 30 years and which still retain their original line-up. Texas is one of them, although I suspect most people would be hard-pushed to name any of the band’s members other than their charismatic frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri.
I’ve admired Sharleen for as long as I can remember. I vividly remember Texas’s first appearance on Top of the Pops and thinking that she looked unbelievably cool – and ballsy, too, in the mould of Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde. I was obsessed by ‘I Don’t Want A Lover’ and can remember playing it endlessly whilst on a French school exchange – my long-suffering friend, Julie Alston, wincing every time I hit the rewind button on my Sony walkman.
Over the years, like most bands, Texas have gone in and out of fashion, but it’s fair to say they’re having something of a renaissance; their latest album, ‘Jump on Board’, is a cracker. And tonight, finally, I got to see them perform live – and at the Royal Albert Hall, surely one of London’s most beautiful venues.
I love the build-up to a concert. There was a tingle in the air when we arrived – that sense of expectation that can’t be replicated anywhere other than at, maybe, a big sporting event (although not at any of Arsenal’s recent matches, as I can personally testify).
I knew we were in for a good time as soon as Texas appeared on stage. Launching straight into ‘Halo’, swiftly followed by ‘When We’re Together’, within seconds everyone in the auditorium was on their feet. “I need some audience participation”, roared Sharleen – and we duly obliged. It’s easy to forget how many hits Texas have had – and how blooming catchy they all are. ‘In Our Lifetime’, ‘Tell That Girl’, ‘Thrill Has Gone’, ‘Summer Son’…don’t pretend you haven’t sung along to any of those at one point or another.
In between songs, Sharleen regaled us with tales of life on the road (pretty wild, by all accounts), the challenges of raising a teenager (her daughter’s 15 and “speaks like Mary Poppins”) and how it feels spotting audience members who’ve been coming to her gigs since 1989. “We couldn’t do this without you all”, she told us – and the sentiment was plainly heartfelt.
My God, that woman can sing. A soulful rendition of ‘Tired Of Being Alone’ left us all breathless (and, in some cases, surreptitiously wiping tears away). Hearing those melodies, performed by someone who so obviously loves music – oh, and who can play the piano beautifully, to boot – is just a joy.
The whole concert was a joy, in fact. None of that “We’re not going to play any of our old hits which you love so much and which made us famous; instead we’re going to inflict upon you every single track from our yet-to-be released new album, plus a couple of obscure B-sides.” No. This was a celebration, pure and simple, of the band which named itself after indie flick ‘Paris, Texas’ and which is genuinely thrilled to have stayed the course for 32 years. “I’ll never get tired of this”, Sharleen told us towards the end of the night – and I believe her.
‘I Don’t Want A Lover’ (yay!) was followed by everyone’s favourite, ‘Black Eyed Boy’ – and then, all of a sudden, Sharleen was announcing a “very special guest” and up popped Clare Grogan, to duet with Sharleen on ‘I Could Be Happy’ and ‘Inner Smile’. “I told you we were bringing a bit of Glasgow to London tonight”, cried Sharleen, triumphantly – and the place erupted.
What a blissful night. Two and a half hours of great music, concluding with a rousing performance of ‘Suspicious Minds’ that had everyone, young and old, dancing on their chairs, in the aisles, on the stage…what more can I say? The perfect ending to the week; my 16 year-old self would be beyond happy.