Ryan Bingham @Newcastle Tyne Theatre, January 29 2020
Without tequila, coke and dominoes there might be no Ryan Bingham.
At least not Ryan Bingham, the internationally acclaimed singer songwriter.
It was during a brief stay with his dad near the Mexican border that a teenage Bingham crossed paths with the bloke who taught him how to play.
In between snorts and sips, his father’s mysterious friend put down the dominoes and picked up the guitar.
And what started out as a fascination with Mariachi melody blossomed into a full-blown obsession with music.
Bingham was hooked.
And 20 years down the line his countryfied roots rock has spawned a Grammy Award, numerous TV spots, film work and…the chance to visit Newcastle.
Bingham’s Tyne Theatre debut didn’t disappoint.
Drawing on an early life spent trawling the dive bars and back alleys of New Mexico’s outpost towns, the 38-year-old was in his element.
And Bingham’s neat mix of carefully chosen tunes and endearing chat chimed with a studious audience keen to learn more.
Jingle And Go and Lover Girl, from latest long player American Love Song, fitted the stripped down setting like a glove.
Bingham’s last album is a versatile and vibrant fusion of Americana, country and roots rock.
It’s intoxicating as a result.
But this was different.
One voice, one guitar and one harmonica meant a memorable show was never going to be a bland mirror-image of Bingham’s studio work.
In fact, a fresh slant on a slew of modern classics was just reward for those fans hanging on every word and every last note.
Bingham’s guitar tone was almost ethereal throughout: flitting from moments of garage rock fury to that Mariachi magic, his classy musicianship inspired and impressed in equal measure.
To many, Bingham is best known as one half of the songwriting team that penned The Weary Kind – the theme tune to the 2009 movie Crazy Heart.
And that T Bone Burnett collaboration still sends shivers down the spine more than a decade after it soundtracked ageing muso Otis Blake’s (Jeff Bridges) life struggles.
Juxtaposing the Grammy Award-winning song’s powerful lyrics with a delightfully understated acoustic arrangement worked an absolute treat.
There’s an argument for claiming Southside Of Heaven stole the show but picking the standout tune from a set founded on granite consistency would be sheer folly.
Newcastle is a long, long way from Marfa, Texas but music this good knows no boundaries.
Bingham arrived in the North East armed with little more than his colourful past. It’s a compelling story that should guarantee a golden future.
Images Courtesy Of Adam Kennedy
Read Rushonrock’s exclusive interview with Ryan Bingham here.