Aria award nominee Harry Hookey had the honour of serenading the early arrivals and he did a superb job of capturing and maintaining their attentiveness with an engaging set. Predominately folk-based with a dash of country, Hookey showed his ability to invest real emotion in what might be clumsy turns of phrase in lesser hands. With a stunning rendition of Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel amongst his originals Hookey showed just why deserved industry recognition is coming his way.
Tim Wheatley has been building a strong reputation over the last few years and was back in town from his current Los Angeles base. Playing solo with guitar, harmonica and kick drum he mixed sweet catchy melodies with bittersweet lyrics about ex band members and heading out into the world and when the song required it he wasn’t afraid to create a noisy blast of energy from his acoustic guitar to the cross-legged punters.
Ryan Bingham sits at the junction between alt-country, rock and blues and with full band in tow he delivered all three of those styles with consummate professionalism, ease and charm. The sound at NSC was faultless, loud and with every instrument in exact focus making the playing of the band even more enjoyable. Bingham blended rabble-rouser and humble troubadour, quickly winning over the audience and transforming the room from a sedate Tuesday night to a juiced up late-night honky tonk bar. With his scratchy, sandpaper voice Bingham sounded like he’d emerged straight from a desert dust cloud and a whiskey bender and it gave songs such as Hallelujah, Southside Of Heaven and Dylan’s Hard Rain that lived-in, from-the-heart emotion that alt-country rock thrives on. Bringing the set home with a brace of searing, slide guitar fuelled, Black Crowe’s styled blues rock Bingham and band thrilled the fans and cemented new ones. In a week of great Americana touring acts Bingham has set the bar extremely high.
this review was first published in The Music