Texas supported by Imelda May performing for The Skyline Series at The Symphony Hall Birmingham on Saturday 1st September 2018.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

The very successful Skyline Series has seen the likes of James Arthur, Texas, Imelda May, Brian Wilson, The The and Garbage grace the stages at Bristol’s St Philips Gate and Birmingham’s Digbeth Arena, but last night Imelda May and Texas were moved indoors, which was a blessing to many given the recent drop in temperature.

In the wonderful warmth of the Birmingham Symphony Hall, Imelda May entered a dimly lit stage to raucous applause. Having moved on from her rockabilly days, she has ditched the pencil skirts and leopard print for a little black dress and ankle boots and now has a slick new hairstyle.

There was none of the usual up tempo songs to open; instead she took a seat in the centre of the stage for the opener from her latest album. With her honeyed voice, sweet and longing wrapped around the audience for the beautiful Call Me, she immediately had everyone’s attention.

Her song When It’s My Time had the hairs on the back of your neck standing up with its inspired church organ sound, and with her 2017’s album, Life, Love, Flesh, Blood showing that her style has extended to include soul, gospel, blues, and rock, this was a set list that encompassed everything.

With the line up on stage changing to include two guitarist, a bass player, a keyboard player and drummer, what hasn’t changed is her voice which as distinctive and gutsy as ever.

It wasn’t all bitter sweet songs of love and loss as May picked up the tempo with Human and the downright lusty Sixth Sense although she brought back the melancholy mood with It Shoulda Been You and Black Tears which were painfully sad.

Her big hit Mayhem was given an outing before the crowd’s favourite Johnny’s Got A Boom Boom had the crowd on their feet before she finished a too short set with Game Changer mashed up with The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks which brought everybody to their feet.

After a short interval Texas took to the stage and there could not have been more of a difference between the almost demure Imelda May and Sharleen Spiteri, an undoubted rock chic who bounced onto the stage dressed in a suit and wearing trainers. Donning her guitar, she and the band launched into an emphatic rendition of I Don’t Need A Lover which had the crowd immediately on their feet.

Telling this appreciative crowd that this was the last night of their UK tour and thanking them for the support during their 35 year career which has witnessed worldwide album sales in excess of thirty five million records including three number one albums, seven top ten albums and thirteen top ten singles, Spiteri dominated the stage as though she was born to be there.

Next up was the slinky disco number, Summer Son before the classic Halo was given an airing. With the set briefly being interrupted by a fan who was clearly under the influence of the hops and who managed to get on to the stage, Spiteri was gracious with him and allowed him his five minutes of fame before finally getting restless and telling him to “get the fuck off my stage”.

Whether Texas are digging deep into their back catalogue with tracks from their 1989 debut Southside like Everyday Now and Thrill Has Gone, or So Called Friend from Rick’s Road, the fans knew every word of every song, which is a real testament to Texas’ staying power.

With Spiteri’s velvet voice dominating the show from the second that she arrived on the stage, it was clear that she has always been the heart of Texas. With a set list that included some of their songs from their 2017 album, Jump On Board, the likes of Let’s Work It Out and Tell That Girl blended seamlessly with the older fans favourites.

They delivered their incredible take on Al Green’s R&B classic Tired Of Being Alone, which they famously released as a single back in 1992, before they headed for the finishing line with a beautiful acoustic rendition of In Demand which saw the whole Hall illuminated by mobile phones swaying from side to side.

Bringing the evening to a close with their version of the Elvis Presley classic Suspicious Minds; Spitiri had shown that she is undoubtedly a fantastic front woman.

With her quick wit and sharp retorts, she really struck a chord with this Birmingham audience but her potty mouth is not for the faint hearted. Which just goes to show; that you can take the girl out of Glasgow but you definitely can’t take Glasgow out of the girl. And we wouldn’t have had her any other way as she looked to embark upon another 35 years of belting out those impressive crowd pleasing hits.