A healthy crowd had descended upon a transformed Inverness sports centre for the arrival of Texas. Every effort had been made to enhance the acoustics of the venue with full height curtaining on all sides with the only exception being the area outside the gym which housed those with VIP tickets who took advantage of their lofty perches.
The support for the night arrived on stage, and without introduction launched into their set. Two songs in we discovered we were listening to London based Girl Called Johnny. Girl Called Johnny is Karen Anne who gives a modern pop twist based a 50/60s sound, with some beefed up guitars giving more than a little added interest. She is no stranger to Inverness and recalled a night in Mad Hatters where she played and her audience did the conga! There was to be no conga here tonight but a lot of respect was given to Girl Called Johnny, with little chatter in the audience, and applause was appreciative if only a little too polite. A rocked up, and ever so dirty, version of ‘Tainted Love’ caught the attention of many, in a set which delighted from start to finish.
There was much anticipation ahead of the arrival of Texas, which was heightened as the lights dimmed and the backdrop of the stage, with an accompanied Detroit radio mix, came alive with a video wall announcing their arrival. It wasn’t difficult to work out what the opener was going to be with the band launching into 80s tinged ‘Detroit City’. However, its reception was somewhat lukewarm, and this was a theme of the night.
Although the gig was part of their tour to promote new album, ‘The Conversation’, it wasn’t really what the majority of the crowd had come to see. Sharleen really had to work the crowd at times to get them onside with songs from the new album. This, however, is something that Sharleen is particularly good at, whether it be cajoling the crowd during a guitar solo, or telling a tale from life back stage, it kept that closeness with her, and the bands’, audience.
The real turning point in the set came as she took everyone back to the start, and ‘I Don’t Want a Lover’. Sharleen talked about how there are three generations that come to see them, but tonight’s crowd belonged predominantly in that first generation. They were, however, prepared to bounce and did that as the set drew upon many favourites such as ‘Black Eyed Boy’, ‘Summer Son’ and set ender ‘Say What You Want’.
With that the crowd bayed for more, and they returned for two encores. Firstly, playing the new album title track, accompanied by Girl Called Johnny, and ‘Inner Smile’. Just before their final return a sizeable number had left, and missed a stirring version of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ which had followed on from an all too long introduction to the band.
As a band, Texas are as polished as they come but tonight they received a mixed response; polarised between the familiar, earlier hits and the latest release ‘The Conversation’ which has not struck the same note that a section of their fans had hoped for.
Overall, the organisers must have been pleased to have got such a sizeable crowd into the sports centre, and equally pleased by the quality of the sound. The vocals were exceptionally clear, which can be difficult to achieve in a cavernous venue. The sports centre clearly does have a future for hosting such events, and it will be interesting to see who can be attracted in the future (see the first announcement for the leisure centre, 2014).