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Ryan Bingham - Photo by Cole Maguire
Ryan Bingham – Photo by Cole Maguire

Harry Hookey

Mojos Bar

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Harry Hookey was essentially a busker until Kasey Chambers and her brother Nash took the Gippsland songwriter under their wing. The budding lawyer quit his studies and took on the life as a troubadour. This trip saw him in the familiar solo mode as he played songs from his debut. Saying he was used to playing in bars where people were more interested in the sport on TV than his set of folk tunes, he was appreciative of the music loving crown at Mojos. His uneven beard may give the impression that Hookey is carefree, but his weighty tunes like Man On Fire and Misdiagnosed show the breadth of his abilities. Hookey’s country charm and earthy voice weren’t lost on the punters, who were warm in their appreciation.

Ryan Bingham has a reputation that precedes him, with his renowned shows in the States and the whispers coming from over east regarding his performances in this country during the past week. Sparing no expense, the full band accompanied Bingham to Perth and they dedicated their set to the ‘hardworking people out there’ as they launched into Dollar A Day. The thick drawl that was honed on porches in New Mexico cut through the air with ease.

The skinny band with handbag moustaches looked like they had come off the set of Boogie Nights but proved to be a powerhouse as they churned out a set that was dripping in the charisma of roadhouse rock. The strong chorus of Dylan’s Hard Rain was an early high point that showed the inspiration behind Bingham’s likeable rasp. The metronymic stomp of Depression was played at a volume that threatened to lift the roof and upped the energy level, while new tune Radio was hook heavy with harmonies aplenty during a memorable chorus.

As the band left the stage, Bingham told the tale of when he got his first guitar when he was sixteen years old. He looked at the guitar for over a year before picking it up. It was Bingham’s neighbour who he used to drink bourbon with that taught him a classic Mariachi song that started him on his journey. Bingham played said tune, La Malaguena, with only one false step to show off his guitar prowess and fluent Spanish.

As the band returned to the stage, Bingham appeared intent to treat his guitar with disdain as he played solos and slide guitar with passion and zest. Bluebird was given some southern punch and Sunshine some dirty slide guitar concluded a memorable set in frenetic fashion.

In what was an oddity of the evening, Bingham ignored his latest album, Tomorrowland, in lieu of older material, and also left theme song to The Bridge, the haunting Until I’m One With You in the box. Even with the quality of tunes that were ignored, Bingham and band put on an unforgettable show. This is one to have kicked yourself to have missed.


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