ENTERING the bar only minutes before doors opened at half-eight I was surprised at the size of the crowd I was greeted with. Partly because usually no one, but the saps with nothing else better to do, like me, is at a gig before the doors despite the late opening time and lack of support. I also couldn’t quite believed the amount of people from Glasgow who presumably liked Ryan Bingham’s gruff style of whisky-driven Americana.
Don’t get me wrong though, Bingham is brilliant, and there is every reason why someone from Scotland’s west coast would like his music. Harsh, real and raw Bingham’s country stylings and gravelly vocals lend themselves perfectly to the story-telling nature of his writing which anyone growing up in a tough city like Glasgow can relate to.
After supping a pint of house lager and swiping a King Tut’s emblazoned beer mat when no one was looking, the crowd at the bar dissipated and entered the arena to watch Bingham kick off the iconic venue’s 25th birthday celebrations.
In a month which is set to feature the likes of Courteeners, The Twilight Sad and The Cribs returning to the stage at Tut’s to toast the tiny 300 capacity venue, Ryan Bingham started the party with a sweet, sultry set.
Bringing his show over from Dublin the night before, Bingham admitted he may have lost some of his talent in the depths of the local poison, but that wasn’t evident to the adoring hordes who screamed out for more all night, some even offering the country star a place to stay so he could play just that bit longer.
Playing a nice mixture of old favourites from the likes of Mescalito (2007) to his latest material from Fear And Saturday Night (2015) Bingham was in fine form. Keeping it simple with a solo acoustic set, things got no more elaborate than an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, oh and of course plenty of clapping, foot stomping and yee-hawing from the lairy crowd!
Twanging, heartfelt, country tunes like ‘Sunshine’, ‘Broken Heart Tattoos’ and ‘Ever Wonder Why’ were interspersed with Bingham’s tales of the rodeo, his learning to play the guitar aged 17 in Laredo, and a hilarious story about his travels to Paris to play at Disneyland only to find out he wasn’t needed when he arrived (he was fine in the end don’t worry).
The New Mexican showed off his Spanish and mariachi guitar skills with the fantastically tranquil ‘Borracho Station’ as he sipped at a whisky all night, which I hope was a local blend.
Bingham’s vocals were on point – edgy, growling and able to captivate – he ran through various tracks over the course of two hours from Roadhouse Sun (2009), Junky Star (2010) and Tomorrowland (2012) before appeasing the crowds with a couple of gems from his first album, arguably his best to date. Yes, of course, Bingham ended on the melancholic desert inspired ‘Southside Of Heaven’ and the hoedown inducing ‘Bread And Water’.
Bingham went down smooth like a sweet bourbon and it’s safe to say when he next comes to Glasgow he’ll either be playing a bigger venue or staying at someone’s flat. Either way, he’s going to lose something, so let’s keep it small and simple.