Ryan Bingham, dressed in jeans, trademark grey Henley shirt and leather jacket delivered “The Gospel according to Ryan” to the sold out Club 939 Friday night in Boston. The extremely intimate room (200 capacity), which is run by Berklee College of Music students, is essentially an oversized living room complete with leather couches. The large windows overlooking Boylston Street provide the feel of city brownstone rather than a music club.
The twenty-one-song set drew from his complete recording catalogue as well as two new numbers from his upcoming release, “Fear and Saturday Night,” although most of the set featured his more intimate numbers. Accompanied by only a guitar, harmonica and microphone in front of a purple backdrop Bingham opened softly with “The Poet” followed by the re-arranged “Dollar a Day”. The latter’s guitar melody neatly picked over sustained low-end notes. He switched to block chords while freelancing the melody in “Depression”.
The set’s creativity continued with the half-time “Dyaln’s Hard Rain” followed by the foot stomping “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So.” The hottest ticket in town on a cold November night the audience comprised mostly of younger couples and attractive co-eds paid rapt attention to the lyrically driven “Junky Star” and “Hallelujah”. The club actually enforces a “no talking policy” however the room was filled with die-hard Bingham fans as opposed to casual observers. While the night was about the music mostly Bingham explained at length how he came to learn to play guitar (drinking whiskey on a neighbor’s porch in Laredo, Texas) and then played an extended version of the mariachi “La Malaguena” the first song he ever learned. Bingham at least gave the appearance of taking audience requests by finger picking through “Yesterday’s Blues”, “Long Way From Georgia” and a syncopated “Wishing Well” featuring a sweet harmonica solo. The two new numbers, “Broken Heart Tattoo” and “Nobody Knows My Trouble” were unmistakably Bingham sounding with the second the catchier of the two.
While the hour and a half set was mostly mid-tempo at best Bingham stepped the pace and sound up significantly for the slide guitar filled encores “Sunshine” and “Bread and Water” before letting the audience down easy with the lyrically perfect set closer “Ever Wonder Why”.