Ryan Bingham was once at a crossroads in his life: Saddle or microphone?
Bingham, who rode in the rodeo cowboy circuit, probably chose the right path (and for good reason too). With its strident gravelly twang, Bingham’s vocal styling is a uniquely recognizable gift that makes his songs sound like some sort of radioactive element. Without that raspy delivery, we might have seen him performing at the Stock Show in January instead of the Ogden Theatre on Saturday night.
Opening with “Guess Who’s Knocking” off his just-released record “Tomorrowland,” Bingham wasted little time flipping on his vocal ignition switch for the crowd. With its bratty refrain and raging tempo, the new song was full of attitude, amplification, and raw power. “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So” succeeded on a wholly different level altogether. Capturing a fine blend between bluegrass and rustic Americana, the song elicited a foot-stompin’ fury from the crowd and made for a subtle segue into the more tender annals of Bingham’s catalog.
On “Depression” off 2010’s “Junky Star,” Bingham proved his mettle as a songwriter and showcased his cachet as a Grammy and Oscar-winner for his music from “Crazy Heart.” “Depression,” which underscores the tale of one man’s redemption in the face of economic woe, also seemed to posit Bingham as a conduit for the working class. For a short interlude, Bingham then performed a chilling solo rendition of “Hallelujah” to rapturous applause. As an encore, the band rejoined for a turbo-charged “Bluebird” — which might have made Steve Earle and Ty Murray equally proud.
Kris K. Coe is a freelance writer, Denver-native, and regular contributor to Reverb.
Karson Brown is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.