11th November 2012
Ryan Bingham's first gig in Glasgow, Scotland, in early 2008, was to a small audience in an intimate venue to promote his debut CD 'Mescalito'.
His recent visit to promote 'Tomorrowland' was in complete contrast to that. Three CDs and a host of awards since 'Mescalito' (including a Grammy and an Oscar for 'The Weary Kind'), Bingham is now able to fill a much larger venue to capacity, and he certainly deserves that.
The stage set now looks like a musician's paradise, with row upon row of guitars for Bingham and his guitarist, and pedal boards so complex that they must need a separate truck. But it struck me that his audience is now a lot different too - hugely appreciative, yes - but unfortunately happy to drown out the subtleties of Bingham's distinctive, gravelly voice by chanting, word-for-word, the lyrics of the quieter acoustic numbers, albeit completely out of sync with their hero.
Despite his fame, Bingham still retains his raw energy and also a certain shyness. When a camera-thrusting fan asked Ryan to smile and say 'cheese', I think he genuinely blushed as he cheerfully obliged with his trademark puppy dog grin.
Bingham's set list was a nice mix of 'Mescalito' tracks, notably 'Sunshine', 'Hard Times' and 'Southside of Heaven', some highlights from the 'Junky Star' CD, including 'Depression', and some selected introductions to the new CD, 'Tomorrowland'.
'Tomorrowland' is very different in style from Bingham's previous albums, prompting several love-it-or-hate-it reviews recently. It was probably helpful, therefore, that the set wasn't dominated by the new CD's heavy material, but included enough to whet the appetite for those that hadn't already purchased it. 'Flower Bomb' and 'Western Shore' were excellent, although the songs' messages are probably best listened to on the studio album as the lyrics were largely lost amongst the loud cacophony of guitars, base and drums.
Bingham and his three piece band ended the night with 'Bread and Water', to rapturous applause from the packed audience. I recalled vividly hearing this song live for the first time at that small 2008 Glasgow gig, when Bingham signed my 'Mescalito' CD and had plenty time to chat. I didn't wait to find out whether he braved the recent audience to sign 'Tomorrowland' CDs, but if he did I'm sure he would have made several hundred Glasgow fans very happy.
Tour dates and music at http://www.binghammusic.com/