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Not playing the hit proves no problem for Bingham

Royale, Boston, February 2, 2016

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Ryan Bingham may always end up being best known for collaborating with T Bone Burnett on the soundtrack for the 2009 film starring Jeff Bridges, particularly "The Weary Kind." That would not be a surprise given that he won a Grammy and Oscar for the song.

One would, therefore, think that "The Weary Kind" would be one of those must sing songs in concert. After all, the fans demand it, right?

If they did, they didn't seem to care because not only did Bingham not serve it up, more importantly, he also made sure that there was more than enough material in his repertoire not to make you walk away feeling cheated.

Bingham pretty much showcased two sides - one that was on the rootsy edge of country and a rock side. The former often was abetted by a healthy dose of fiddle from Richard Bowden, who with his white beard and head of hair cut a distinct figure on stage from his far younger band mates. Bingham punctuated a few songs with mandolin, and drummer Nate Barnes established the appropriate beat.

Bingham sings with a grizzled delivery for the most part. Dylan's certainly an apt reference point. Bingham's take on Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" was familiar, yet Bingham assumed ownership. He additionally tackled The Pogues jaunty (musically anyway because it isn't lyrically) "Thousands Are Sailing," a little bit different vocally due to his Irish-sounding accent and well done.

Like Springsteen, Bingham paints a lot of pictures in his songs, and a lot of them were not necessarily pretty. "My Diamond Is Too Rough," one of the best songs of the night and one of only four from last year's "Fear & Saturday Night," was ultimately a tale of perseverance and belief in the self.

Bingham typically opted for a more dense sound on the rocking songs. The muddy sounding "Top Shelf Drug" featured a lot of Daniel Sproul's meaty guitar, something that would be in force throughout.

Bingham closed with a lengthy, muscular reading of the first song from the disc that first got him on the map, "Mescalito," "South Side of Heaven." Bingham kicked off "South Side..." with harp and inserted in throughout as the song loped along. A coda spiced with acoustic (Bingham) and electric (guitars and fiddle made for a fine song and fine closing - before a five-song encore.

There would be no rendition of "The Weary Kind" during the 95 minutes. No worries though because through his country and rock songs on this night, Bingham proved an artist needn't be saddled by a hit to bring musical joy.