Taking the stage with just a single guitar and a winning smile, Ryan Bingham kicks off his short European Tour to a packed Whelan’s tonight. It has been 3 years since he last played here and the lack of his fine band, the Dead Horses, this time around does nothing to dampen the spirits of a very enthusiastic crowd. This gig can be likened to hitting a home run as there is no sitting on the fence for an audience full of die-hard fans, who sing along to most of the songs. Wearing a fine looking cowboy hat, Ryan Bingham cuts an impressive figure and his confidence in playing and communicating stories between songs leaves everybody hanging on his every move. The tour is in support of a new record, Fear and Saturday Night, his fifth release since 2007.
His performance has matured over the years and he is a very accomplished guitar player which supports his excellent song writing perfectly. He sings like he means every word and his dusky, gravel-like delivery is very heartfelt, as he performs a number of new songs from the latest release. Thanking the crowd for their patience we are treated to seven new songs and all are received as if they were old favourites already. In addition we are taken back through his impressive catalogue and thirteen more songs complete a show which runs for over 90 minutes including encores. No breaks needed just pure talent in the writing and the delivery of every song. Starting with Poet and Workin’ for a Dollar a Day, the room is in full swing when he introduces new songs Nobody Knows My Trouble and Broken Heart Tattoos.
Tell My Mother I Miss Her So is followed by Mr Dylan’s Hard Rain before we get more new songs in the shape of My Diamond is Too Rough and Fear and Saturday Night, the title of his new recording. We are then treated to a Mariachi song La Malaguena which is a real winner and raises the temperature in the room even higher. Old favourites like the Weary Kind, Hard Times, Southside of Heaven and Sunshine all get an airing and are performed with conviction and a compelling talent. Bread and Water is kept until the encore, with some very tasty bottle-neck playing and the show closes with the excellent Ever Wonder Why?
Speaking of his appreciation to fans that come out to support his music and spend their hard earned Euros on a Saturday night, he is self-effacing and comes across with an honesty and integrity that makes Ryan Bingham so popular to an increasing army of admirers on these shores. Long may he run and we are already looking forward to his return.
Review and photograph by Paul McGee