Ryan Bingham + Joana Serrat, The Garage, Islington, 21st June 2019

Having previously stirred the European waters with a handful of intimate spring acoustic appearances, tonight’s Ryan Bingham show was to be the full powered, full band, showcase of his new ‘American Love Song’ LP. Backed by a mighty fine rhythm section, two wonderful singers and an excellent wing man guitarist, Bingham was in great form and the band were in full force right from the off with a straight out rockin’ ‘Nothing Holds Me Down’. This was followed by the roadhouse blues and country shuffle of ‘Jingle & Go’. “His boots may be crocodile,” he declares in his Texan gruff, but“this ain’t some of yer f’kin tractor kinda shit.”

A swinging ‘Situation Station’ followed and the lines, “as our President shits upon a nation, riding on the back of a poor man, selling them – lies, lies, lies” are roared in woozy chorused harmony. With modern times clearly on his mind, “It was once tornado drills, it’s now shooting drills” he comments, empathising with school kids in this day and age of regular school shootings, as he introduced a tender ‘Wolves At Bay’ adding,  “There’s not much time to talk tonight but it’s all in the songs anyway”. None more apparent on ‘Tell My Mother I miss Her So’ and “Beautiful and Kind’ – his understandably tough to deal with (one assumes from the outset) emotions towards his parents and now own parental emotions, never stray too far from many a song.

‘Hallelujah’ builds to every piece the bold southern gospel its title suggests. ‘Lover Girl’ slid along and ‘What Would I Become’ stomped a fine honky tonk, before Bingham closed the night with a solo acoustic delivery of ‘The Weary Kind’ , the theme song from 2010’s film ‘Crazy Heart’ that earned him an Oscar no less. Energised and road ready for an imminent summer tour of the US, this evening’s show was the furthest thing from weary.

Support came from Catalan artist Joana Serrat. Playing solo, there were many acoustic melancholic songs with occasional bursts of harmonica for good measure. Soaked in plenty of reverb, a finger-picked cover of Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’ worked very well. Her own ‘Lost Battles’ was reminiscent of New Order’s ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ without the beats. Fans of The Sundays, Frente and Mazzy Star probably wouldn’t go too far wrong in investigating her.

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Mr. Bingham has a very bad character and doesn’t deserve the support from Americana UK! Ask Sons of Bill about their negative experiences the made with this worse vocalist!