The Man in Black: The Johnny Cash StoryPhoto –

After seeing the first night punters rise to their feet to give this show a rousing standing ovation, any small criticism I have might seem petty.

The show opened with a neat outfit, The Tennesee Four setting the bar high with a bouncy beat- driven sound.

Enter Tex Perkins, aka The Man in Black. From the outset any doubts of his vocal ability to replicate the Cash sound were banished.

A booming baritone/ bass, complete with Southern twang set the tone to perfection. I Walk the Line had us gasping at the vocal depth and authenticity.

This show had a starter Sydney season in 2012. Now it is being reprised for a short tour and already the Perth shows have stretched to seven shows. The simple narrative of Cash’s early life is set up in the first half with Tidd and Perkins, both excellent singers, if not primarily actors, moving at a somewhat uneven pace, Tidd overly slow in delivery.

Proceedings ramped up with lively numbers reminiscent to Cash familiars. These then trailed his decline into drug usage, alcoholism and marital failure. This gloomy scenario was offset by some references to Cash’s strong religious upbringing which gave rise to some old style Southern spirituals.

The second half of the show was infinitely tighter, with less narrative and more songs. The legendary Folsom Prison set was outstanding. Back to back hits. Perkins relishing the humour and displaying excellent comic timing in the storylines of A Boy Named Sue and Busted.

The lovely harmonies between Perkins and Tidd were evidenced in duets such as If I Were a Carpenter. The signature, Man in Black, as well as Long Black Veil, Sunday Morning Coming Down and Hurt were deeply regretful poetic essays treated respectfully in the competent hands of Perkins.

Vibrant versions of Jackson andRing of Fire underlined the on/off stage chemistry between Cash and Carter. To close, the mood reverted to the signature refrains of all the favourites; score changes adeptly handled by the band.

The audience responded ecstatically. Everybody went home happy.

The Man in Black: The Johnny Cash Story
With Tex Perkins & Rachel Tidd withThe Tennesee Four.

Venue: Regal Theatre, Subiaco
Dates: 26 – 31 August 2014

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