Ryan Bingham at Whelan’s on 9th November 2012
Ryan Bingham made his Dublin return almost two years to the day since his last visit. Then, he was riding the crest of Oscar success with ‘The Weary Kind’. This time round the Texan was supporting the release of his album ‘Tomorrowland’, having gone the ‘do-it-yourself’ route.
Arriving into Whelan’s, Dublin’s ‘Leaders of Men’ were on stage and playing to a full crowd. The five piece boast a repertoire of anthemic songs boosted by great musicianship and a fantastic frontman. Brian Ashe’s vocals are on par and he seems like a cheeky chappy, hiding his hands with his sleeves seemingly shy before hanging off the mic and staring blankly into the crowd. Although this makes the singer seem slightly disjointed from the rest of the band, it still makes sense and everything blends beautifully for tracks like ‘Happy Now’ and ‘Up Against The Wall’.
The audience have been busy jostling for prime positions for the headliner’s set. When Ryan Bingham takes to the stage, there’s no big build up, he and his band make their way to their instruments and ready to start their evening with ‘Sunshine’ from the album ‘Mescalito’. It begins with a treat in the shape of slide guitar playing, the track and falls back to just a slide guitar.
Bingham’s four album catalogue provides him with an amazing array of songs on this musical journey. His brand of Americana storytelling is helped along by his unique raspy voice which gives the impression that he has an old soul for his thirty one years. Throughout the evening, many different elements from country music can be here including old time bluegrass in ‘Tell My Mother I Miss Her So’. Visually as well as sonically, the guitars Bingham play also add to set. He changes from acoustic to a couple of electrics. Scars of previous gigs, rehearsals and many years of love have knocked the edges off them.
As each track ends, the audience reaction gets louder, most of them knowing and singing every word to match what’s taking place on stage. Bingham exudes a shyness, like he prefers his music doing the talking. A pint of Guinness and a shot of whiskey from the audience unify the two and when one over eager punter stands with his back to the stage trying to get a photo with the Oscar winner in view, Bingham grins from ear to ear.
Ryan is playing with a different band this time round, having recorded ‘Tomorrowland’ without his longtime collaborators The Dead Horses. Together, the four piece perfectly play the set through ebb and flow. Many times throughout there are indications of how Bingham’s style is changing to a rockier vibe while still holding a depth and sincerity with his lyrics. His current single, ‘Guess Who’s Knockin’ a stomping tune with the refrain “It’s me Motherfucker, I’m knocking on the door“, gets everyone in the venue pumped and no, the song wouldn’t be the same without it. There are tender moments too as Ryan tells how ‘Flower Bomb’ is all about Banksy “whoever he, or she is.”
Bingham is a terrific performer and musician, and a likeable character. As the main set ends with the close to the bone song of our time, ‘Depression’, voices are calling out already for an encore. Looking around the venue, punters have positioned themselves into nooks and crannies for the best vantage points in the jam packed joint. A solo acoustic fingerpicking version of ‘Hallelujah’ follows before the audience proverbially bend Ryan’s arm for ‘The Weary Kind’, solo acoustic again with backing vocals from every punter. The band arrive back on stage to pick up the pace for the end of the set with the ‘Southside of Heaven’ and ‘Bread and Water’. Leaving the venue punters are overheard, ‘I can’t believe he played that…’ A magnificent way to start a weekend, a fantastic performance and musicianship…Bingham is a younger Springsteen.
Tell My Mother I Miss Her So
Guess Who’s Knockin
Dylan’s Hard Times
Too Deep To Fill
Never Far Behind
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The Weary Kind (Solo)
Southside of Heaven
Bread and Water