The Sugar Club was not perhaps the best venue for Bingham who seems to prefer the audience upfront and personal and Bingham got everyone on their feet at the show's end. Indeed, due to a 10:30 nightclub curfew, the audience made no move to leave, instead demanding the band return for an encore which they duly did. The encore really rocked with both Bingham and guitarist Corby Schaub playing electric bottleneck slide on a bluesy extended workout.
The show opened with Bingham playing solo with harmonica. The band then launched into Day Is Done with gusto and the gig took off. Front and centre was Bingham's aged gravelly voice, an amazing sound that belies his years. He acknowledged the audience with "How you guys doing? Alright?"before delivering a set that featured songs from all three of his Lost Highway albums which included "a songs for all the mothers out there" Tell My Mother I Miss Her So. Those expecting something akin to his Crazy Heart co-write may have been disorientated by the sheer energy and noise that this band makes. Key to this is drummer Matt Smith and bassist Elijah Ford, both of whom shone, but special mention must go to Smith who drove the band and the sound. Schaub played mandolin and a variety of guitars that blistered in raw intensity. As with many bands, the live set is harder and more powerful that studio versions of the songs could ever be. Perhaps the most interesting section of the set was Bingham talkingof learning to play the guitar with Malaguena, a mariachi inspired version that featured Schaub on mandolin. This largely instrumental number was full of atmosphere and ability and showed Bingham as a skilled guitarist too. Requests came flying from the audience with South Side of Heaven from his first album being a particular favourite. Hard Times from that album also featured. The song Strange Feeling In The Air was prefaced by Ryan's remark that there was a lot of discrimination in the world but that this songs says "fuck to all that".
The set proper closed with a dynamic cover of Townes Van Zandt's Highway Kind which also featured opening act Australian singer/songwriter Liam Gerner on electric guitar. If that had been the closing it would have been a fitting tribute to a hero as well as a great song to end on. But then the audience, as mentioned stayed put and we got that encore. There's not doubt that all there were pleased with the show and that Bingham and the boys will be back.
Review: Steve Rapid Photography: Ronnie Norton