Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses At Levitt Pavilion
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By Crystal Larsen
Thursday evening seemed more like a Saturday night in Pasadena, Calif., as Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses took the stage at the Levitt Pavilion Pasadena as part of the venue's free summer concert series, and before the band heads out on tour with GRAMMY winner Willie Nelson. "You guys ready to rock and roll a little bit?" Bingham asked, obviously a rhetorical question, before strumming into a 13-song set that included tracks off his major label debut Mescalito (2007), Roadhouse Sun (2009) and the band's new album Junky Star, due Aug. 31.
Ryan's road-weary vocals were matched by bassist Elijah Ford, guitarist Corby Schaub and drummer Matt Smith, who wasted no time before opening the set with the roots-rock track "Day Is Done." Four songs into the set, and after a dedication to all the mothers in the audience with "Tell My Mother I Miss Her So," Ryan encouraged us all to get up off the lawn and party a bit. "Take the beers out of your backpacks…moonshine out of the water bottles," he said, likely as a play on the venue's no-alcohol policy. That policy was thrown out the window when one fan brought a bottle of wine to the stage, which Ryan graciously accepted and took a swig of, as did Elijah and Matt, before security asked that he cease from his indulgence. "Sorry for partyin'," the troubadour replied.
That didn't slow Ryan, his Dead Horses or any of us down as the band dove into "Sunrise," "Bluebird" and the solemn "Hallelujah" off the new album. The latter garnered a few "hallelujahs" from the crowd and one woman even shouted, "Sold!"
As the band started to play the familiar "Hard Times," off Mescalito, Ryan dedicated it to the victims of the Gulf Coast oil spill, singing "Hard times, creeping up on the good folks you know." The band followed up with another new track and lyrical sign of the times, "Depression."
By the ninth song the crowd was begging to dance. "Let's boogie," Ryan said as he strapped on his six-string and strummed into "Change Is."
The night wasn't complete without Ryan's finger-picking work on "The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart)," this time accompanied by Corby on the mandolin, which garnered the former rodeo bull rider a Golden Globe and an Oscar. He brought out the harmonica for "Southside Of Heaven," which appeared to be the band's last song, until Ryan came back to say "We're just warming up," launching into rock-heavy "Sunshine" and "Bread And Water." The latter even had one guy (who looked like he'd fit right in at a Slipknot concert) make his best attempt at square dancing.
Ryan and the band came to rock and roll, and that's just what they did while encouraging the rest of us to do the same: "It's better to take your kids to a rock and roll concert than have them play rock and roll on video games, right?"
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(Photo Information: Ryan Bingham & The Dead Horses perform at Levitt Pavilion on July 29 | Photo: The Recording Academy)