The Man in Black – The Johnny Cash Story
starring Tex Perkins
Thebarton Theatre, Saturday 14thSeptember 2019
(Reviewed by John Glennie)
In this, the 10thyear of The Man in Black show, it is easy to see why it has been such a popular concert. They have had plenty of time to perfect their presentation and certainly did not disappoint.
Tex Perkins and Rachael Tidd do a superb job of talking us through the life and times of the great Johnny Cash and presenting his songs. If you closed your eyes it would be so easy to think you were listening to the real deal, Tex’s voice is so well-suited to the deep tones of Cash. Open your eyes and you could still think it was the real deal as he has perfected the mannerisms of the master.
We were told that when Johnny was starting out, the North of the USA were listening to the likes of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The South had Johnny Cash and the great blues and rock legends of the day. I learnt a lot from this show – especially about his early years and the tough life on a cotton farm and the tragic death of his older brother, to which his father said “God took the wrong son away from me”. Cash had to live with that for the rest of his life.
Being the story of Johnny Cash’s life, the show wasn’t just a “best of” set list but included songs that were pertinent at the time. We also learned that Cash was infatuated with trains and performed 22 songs about them! Cash also had “an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other” which explained why he had such a strong affiliation with “God and cocaine – and probably both at the same time!”.
The Man in Black band is the Tennessee Four and comprises Shane Reilly on keyboards, Matt Walker on guitar, Steve Hadley on bass and Dave Folley on drums. They are excellent musicians who definitely do justice to Cash’ band going back 40 or 50 years. The vocal harmonies were spine-tingling on the duets where Tex and Rachael became Johnny Cash and June Carter – Johnny’s second wife.
Though Johnny sang gospel, country, blues and rock, most of his songs lean towards his passion for rock. I also discovered that many of Johnny’s greatest hits were written by others – including Ring of Fire written by June Carter, Sunday Morning Coming Down by Kris Kristofferson and Hurt by Trent Reznor.
Songs we were treated to included:
Act 1: I Walk The Line, Hey Porter, Get Rhythm, Big River, Five Feet High & Risin’, Were You There, Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, Sunday Morning Coming Down, Help Me Make It Through The Night, It Ain’t Me Babe, Jackson
Act 2: Folsom Prison Blues, Busted, A Boy Named Sue, Long Black Veil, I Still Miss Someone, Man in Black, The Beast in Me, If I were A Carpenter, Hurt, Ring of Fire
Overall, a superb concert by very polished musicians. IF you have never seen it, please make the effort next time you see it coming to town. You won’t regret it!