Ginger Baker was rock’s first superstar drummer and the most influential percussionist of the 1960s.

Ginger Baker: A Star Rock Drummer Famous for Talent and Mischief

Right at the beginning of the new documentary “Beware of Mr. Baker,” the film’s director, Jay Bulger, is attacked by his subject, the rock drummer Ginger Baker. Not verbally attacked, mind you — though there will be plenty of that — but physically, with a metal cane that draws blood when applied to the bridge of the filmmaker’s nose. Mr. Baker, whom we will subsequently encounter in less agitated moods, is upset about the direction of Mr. Bulger’s project.

“I don’t want those people in my film,” he shouts, though, like most of his utterances, this one is not fully quotable here.

“Those people” are fellow musicians who, in due course, show up on screen to testify to Mr. Baker’s artistic prowess and also to his less appealing traits. They include erstwhile band mates like Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Steve Winwood, and also fans and epigones like Stewart Copeland of the Police and Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

Mr. Baker has never been, to understate the matter, an easy person to get along with, a point that “Beware of Mr. Baker” returns to as it follows him through four marriages, at least a half-dozen bands, roughly one million cigarettes and countless burned bridges. Animated sequences depict a ship, rowed by the drummer’s red-haired avatars, zigzagging the globe — from London to Nigeria to Los Angeles and other spots on the way to his current home in South Africa — leaving a trail of not entirely metaphorical smoldering wreckage.

The facts of Mr. Baker’s life describe a familiar tale of modest beginnings, early triumph, wild excess and at least partial recovery. After a wartime childhood during which his father was killed in action, Mr. Baker survived a rebellious adolescence, nearly two decades of heroin addiction and the standard diet of touring, feuding and sexual abandon that used to be synonymous with rock ’n’ roll. Now 73, he has aged but not necessarily mellowed, living in pastoral semi-seclusion with his family and dozens of dogs and polo ponies.

But Mr. Bulger, a former boxer and model before he turned to journalism and then filmmaking, does not let “Behind the Music” sensationalism overwhelm the music itself, which is Mr. Baker’s great passion and the only reason anyone should take an interest in him. Relying on the judgment of many experts — notably a squad of veteran drummers that includes Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Max Weinberg of the E Street Band, Neil Peart of Rush and many others — the film makes a persuasive argument that Mr. Baker was the greatest of all rock drummers.

Anticipated objections from the partisans of Keith Moon and John Bonham are brusquely answered: “No, no, no, no, no,” says Mr. Clapton, who survived two supergroups (Cream and Blind Faith) in Mr. Baker’s company.

For his part, Mr. Baker asserts: “If they were alive, ask them. They’d tell you I was better.”

The case for Mr. Baker is complicated by the fact that as awesome as Cream may have sounded if you were young and stoned in 1968, the band did not have the staying power of Led Zeppelin or the Who. Some of that had to do with trouble between Mr. Baker and Mr. Bruce, the bassist, but Cream was also, somehow, less than the sum of its prodigiously gifted parts.

Still, “Beware of Mr. Baker” invites you to listen again, and to attend to the rhythmic power and complexity that this drummer brought to the group’s thunderous (and often ponderous) variations on the rhythm and blues playbook.

Mr. Baker was a rocker, in a sense, by accident of birth and association. If you were young, musical and British in the 1960s, rock ’n’ roll was an irresistible career path, and Mr. Baker certainly, at least for a while, lived out the rock star legend to its fullest. But he was by taste and temperament more of a jazzman, captivated at an early age by African polyrhythms and the expansive approach of American drummers like Max Roach and Elvin Jones.

Rather than keeping the beat, Mr. Baker opened it up, adding layers and nuances without sacrificing his innate, unerring sense of time. He was wilder than steady rhythm players like Charlie Watts, and also far more disciplined and subtle than showboating wild men like Mr. Moon and Mr. Bonham.

And now, in his 70s, Mr. Baker is hardly in a mood for classic-rock nostalgia. “That was the birth of heavy metal,” he says of the Cream years. “It should have been aborted.”

Asked about his first impression of Mick Jagger, he responds with a summary, unpublishable judgment and a raised middle finger. An earlier videotaped interview shows him choking up with emotion when he speaks of Mr. Roach, Mr. Jones, Art Blakey and Phil Seamen, jazz idols who came to recognize him as a peer.

And in the 1970s, when he might have cashed in and become an arena-rock superstar, Mr. Baker went to Lagos to play with Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the great Nigerian singer, bandleader and political troublemaker, who at the time was very far from being the subject of a Broadway musical.

Mr. Bulger tracks down Mr. Baker’s friends, ex-wives, children and admirers to create a detailed portrait of a man who may not really be all that complicated. Artists with messy, ugly lives and less-than-admirable personalities are not as paradoxical as we sometimes think. At the drums, Mr. Baker is in control, and everything makes sense. The rest of it is the usual noise.

“Beware of Mr. Baker”
Written and directed by Jay Bulger; director of photography, Eric Robbins; edited by Abhay Sofsky; produced by Andrew Karsch, Fisher Stevens, Eric H. Gordon and Mr. Bulger; released by SnagFilms/Insurgent Media. At Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. This film is not rated.

“Beware of Mr. Baker” includes archival footage and animated sequences.
Published: November 27, 2012
The New York Times

Ginger Baker was rock’s first superstar drummer and the most influential percussionist of the 1960s.

New York City Metro Area, NY Live Music Shows 2012 -2013

New York City skyline from New Jersey

New York City skyline from New Jersey

Nov 28, 29, 30, 2012
The Gaslight Anthem
Terminal 5
Manhattan, NYC

Dec 3, 2012
One Direction
Madison Square Garden
Manhattan, NYC

Dec 4, 5, 2012
Animal Collective
Terminal 5
Manhattan, NYC

Dec 5, 2012
Andrea Bocelli
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, NYC

Dec 8, 2012
The Rolling Stones
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, NYC

Dec 11, 2012
Band of Horses: Special Acoustic Performance
Manhattan Center Studios

December 11, 2012
James Blake
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NYC

Dec 14, 2012
Roseland Ballroom
Manhattan, NYC

Dec 20, 2012
Leonard Cohen
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, NYC

Dec 30, 31, 2012
Coldplay and Jay-Z
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, NYC

February 8, 2013
Irving Plaza
Manhattan, NYC

Mar 2, 3, 4, 2013
Swedish House Mafia
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, NYC

Mar 7, 2013
Lady Gaga
Barclays Center
Brooklyn, NYC

Apr 12, 2013
Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013
Madison Square Garden
Manhattan, NYC

Coldplay, Jay-Z to Rock New Year’s Eve in Brooklyn, NY

Jay-Z and Chris Martin of Coldplay. Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

By Rolling Stone November 12, 2012

Coldplay will rock in the new year in style, with three shows to cap off 2012. The British rockers will visit Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on December 29th, then hit Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on December 30th and 31st. Co-headliner Jay-Z will join Coldplay on New Year’s Eve. Tickets for the Mohegan Sun Arena show will go on sale this Friday, November 16th, at 10 a.m. EST. Tickets for the two Barclays Center shows will go on sale this Saturday, November 17th, at 10 a.m. EST. Visit Live Nation for tickets and more details.

Coldplay Bring Comics to Life in ‘Hurts Like Heaven’
New clip is based on drawings from ‘Mylo Xyloto’ series

October 8, 2012 11:01 AM

Coldplay debuted their Mylo Xyloto comic series earlier this year, and now the band brings the drawings to life in the new video for Mylo cut “Hurts Like Heaven.” A group of five superheroes goes on the run, escaping oppressive futuristic police with their colorful superpowers. They’re eventually caught, leaving a world without inspiration. But a glimmer of hope survives, as a young boy seems to retain the same powers to preserve the rebels’ legacy.

The Who Stage ‘Quadrophenia’ at Triumphant Brooklyn Concert

The Who @ Barclays Center, Brooklyn

By Rolling Stone Thu, Nov 15, 2012

The Who’s 1973 rock opera, Quadrophenia, is one of their boldest and most fully realized albums, but it’s never quite gotten the live show it deserves – until now.

The previous two Quadrophenia tours, staged in 1973 and 1997, were stifled by overwrought presentation, but this time Pete Townshend left the creative decisions to Roger Daltrey, who wisely stripped out any narration or guest singers. Not a word was spoken during the 90-minute Quadrophenia portion of the show at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Wednesday night. The Who played the album from top to bottom, this time adding only five additional musicians to their current lineup. Every note from the album was reproduced, down to the boiling tea kettle and British newscast before “The Punk and the Godfather” and the squawking seagulls before “Sea and Sand.”

500 Greatest Albums: The Who, ‘Quadrophenia’

From the opening notes of “The Real Me,” it was also clear that Roger Daltrey’s voice, a bit rocky on recent Who outings, has benefited tremendously from his recent medical treatment. Furthemore, bassist Pino Palladino was appropriately high in the mix. This is crucial. The Who’s late bassist, John Entwistle, played bass like it was a lead instrument, and its thunder was a critical part of their unique sound. Palladino is a formidable musician, but over the past decade he’s been mixed way too low, and as a result the Who didn’t quite sound like the Who for a long time. His bass level went up and down in the mix throughout the night, but it was a huge improvement from the band’s recent tours.

On the original Quadrophenia tour, the Who played the vast majority of the double album without additional musicians, relying on primitive tape machines that drove Pete Townshend to the brink of madness. The guitarist also talked himself hoarse between songs, frantically explaining the complex story of Quadrophenia’s teen protagonist, Jimmy, to an audience that just wanted to rock out. When they tried it again in 1996, they brought along a 10-piece backing band, Billy Idol and (shudder) Gary Glitter to portray the Ace Face and the Godfather. Townshend brought in Jimmy Daniels – star of the 1979 Quadrophenia movie – to narrate between songs, and video screens showed footage from the movie and of the early-Sixties mod scene. The band sounded great, but Townshend overthought the presentation. He also stuck to acoustic guitar for much of the show, leaving most of his famous leads in the hands of his kid brother, Simon.

Some fans surely groaned when they learned the Who were trying it yet again on their 2012 tour, but after nearly 40 years, the band finally got it right. Screens did show archival video of mods and rockers battling on Brighton Beach in 1964, but mostly the images were completely disconnected from the story of Quadrophenia. They were largely focused on global struggles over the past half-century, from World War II through the Occupy Wall Street movement. Jimmy’s inner turmoil suddenly became the world’s.

Rather than have Palladino recreate John Entwistle’s famous “5:15” bass solo, the Who wisely opted to show video of the late bassist playing it at the Royal Albert Hall in 2000. It was a great reminder of Entwistle’s jaw-dropping virtuosity, and it fit in seamlessly. They also paid tribute to the late Keith Moon during “Bell Boy,” one of the only times in Who history his vocals were heard on an album. They showed video of him performing the song in 1974, with Moon’s vocals dubbed in from the LP.

After struggling a bit vocally during “Dr. Jimmy,” Daltrey stepped offstage for “The Rock,” an instrumental. Pete and Simon traded licks while the screens showed tumultuous moments in recent history, from the death of Princess Diana to Columbine to 9/11. Images of terrified New Yorkers fleeing the collapsing World Trade Center may have seemed exploitative (especially in New York), but it’s a song about finding resolve in the face of life-threatening danger and it was largely effective. The finale of “Love Reign O’er Me” (arguably the Who’s greatest song) is an incredibly demanding song for any vocalist. Roger Daltrey is two years away from his 70th birthday, but he returned from backstage determined to nail it. He can’t quite hit the high notes like he did back in ’73, but it was still stunning. He even hit the primal scream at the end.

There aren’t a lot of famous songs on Quadrophenia, so they packed the encore section with their biggest hits. “Baba O’Riley,” “Who Are You,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Pinball Wizard” have been played live roughly 50,000 times, but few songs in rock history work better in an arena setting. For the first time of the night, everyone was on their feet and screaming along to every word.

In a show that ran over two hours, with the exception of “Who Are You” (1978), “Pinball Wizard” (1969) and the final encore of “Tea and Theater” (2006) every song of the night came out between 1971 and 1973. It was a ridiculously fruitful period for Townshend, even if his mighty ambitions at the time were often greater than the ability of any band to execute them. For decades Quadrophenia has been seen by many as a slightly inferior rock opera to Tommy, and this tour seems partially motivated by Townshend’s desire to prove the two works are, at the least, equally worthy. If anything, Quadrophenia is the more cohesive and compelling work.

The show ended with Townshend and Daltrey alone onstage. As is custom at recent Who shows, they played the nostalgic “Tea and Theater” from 2006’s middling Endless Wire. Like so much Who activity since their 1982 split, it’s about looking backwards. “The story is done/Getting colder now,” Daltrey sang. “A thousand songs still smolder now/We played them as one/We’re older now.” Even Quadrophenia (written when Townshend was just 29) is about looking backwards at the Who’s early days. This endless reliving of history may have hurt the Who’s legacy (imagine if they’d split in 1978), but now that they’re reaching the end of their journey it feels truly poignant. They are survivors of a bygone era, and they have endured tragedy after tragedy. Any tour now feels like a justified victory lap.

While others have Paris and Rome, we’ll always have Brooklyn.

The Grand Army Plaza – Brooklyn, NYC

While others have Paris and Rome, we’ll always have Brooklyn. But justifiable pride of place should not make us reluctant to look deeper and examine serious challenges to Brooklyn’s well being. ~ Marilyn Gelber

There’s no shortage of pride in Brooklyn. Whether you’re a fan of pizza from Di Fara’s, Spumoni Gardens, Roberta’s or Lucali’s; or you claim to know where to find the very best taco and dim sum in Sunset Park, the next big music act out of Bushwick or Williamsburg, or the block in Dyker Heights with the most stunning Christmas lights—it’s pride in the vitality and character of our communities, their rich history, the perfect scale and look of our old buildings and the sharp elbows of the new ones, which adds up to the always fascinating and seldom dull landscape of 70 distinct neighborhoods that is Brooklyn.

While others have Paris and Rome, we’ll always have Brooklyn — a borough of bridges, brownstones, and boardwalks; a home with endless wonders to explore, just a walk or subway ride away.

But justifiable pride of place should not make us reluctant to look deeper and examine serious challenges to Brooklyn’s well being.

While Brooklyn is booming—rapidly rivaling our neighbor across the river as the place to live and work—it’s still home to sky -high poverty rates, too many low-performing schools, under resourced public housing developments, shaky health facilities, young people out of school and out of work, and a tragically large number of seniors barely getting by.

When we launched the Brooklyn Community Foundation just over two years ago, we wanted to be a force for good. We wanted to bring resources and ideas to strengthen communities and engage Brooklynites in giving and service to others. But we knew that in order to do this we needed to help Brooklynites look through a more accurate lens on issues and trends in the borough to help us all be more deeply informed about the place we live: what’s affecting our neighborhood schools, how local businesses are faring in this economy, and how are decisions being made about future development. Francis Bacon was right: Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est. Knowledge is power.

So our sights were set on generating more easily accessible local information—data, reporting, analysis—to empower Brooklynites to get active and be part of making Brooklyn better for all who live here.

To lay the groundwork for an information renaissance in Brooklyn, we took two major steps. First, we funded and created the Center for the Study of Brooklyn at Brooklyn College, a research institute solely focused on Brooklyn. Second, we teamed up with City Limits to get a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to build the Brooklyn Bureau, a new source of serious investigative journalism for all of Brooklyn.

Right now in the media there are two Brooklyns: the Brooklyn of artisanal cheese shops and the Brooklyn of murder and mayhem.

While we love that there’s no shortage of ink on how “cool” Brooklyn is, there’s an egregious lack of reporting dedicated to civic and social issues in what would be the nation’s fourth largest city. We’re not comfortable with the idea of Brooklyn being split apart by income disparity and selective investment, and the general media paying attention to just a sliver of what’s happening here.

We need to hold everyone to a higher standard. And the Brooklyn Bureau, with its dedication to investigating local issues particularly in underserved communities across our borough, is a key part of our work to do that.

While City Limits’ reporters are canvassing Brooklyn for untold stories and new perspectives, researchers at the Center for the Study of Brooklyn at Brooklyn College are completing work on a series of Neighborhood Profiles for each of Brooklyn’s 18 Community Districts. These information-rich profiles look at key civic indicators over the past decade, so that we can begin to see trends and identify needs across neighborhoods, the borough, and the City.

The Neighborhood Profiles will premiere on the Brooklyn Bureau later this month. In the spring, we will build on this neighborhood-level work to publish the first ever Borough-wide Brooklyn Trends Report, examining the strength of our collective local economy, housing stock, health and healthcare, public safety, education system, environment, and the arts.

We invite you to join us at the Brooklyn Community Foundation as we create a chronicle of 21st century Brooklyn life.

In subsequent columns we’ll take a thorough look at each of Brooklyn’s 18 Community Districts through the lens of City Limits’ reporting, the Center for the Study of Brooklyn’s data analysis, and the Brooklyn Community Foundation’s knowledge of the nonprofit community and key public policy issues.

We hope you’ll accompany us on this journey to explore one of the liveliest, most interesting places on the planet—sometimes referred to as the people’s republic of Brooklyn—and we hope it inspires you to Do Good Right Here.

Ryan Bingham: Q&A

Ryan Bingham

Ryan Bingham is currently on a European Tour that will cap off a great year for the singer-songwriter after the release of his new album Tomorrowland.

We caught up with the singer to chat about how the tour is going and the response to his new record.

– You are currently on your European tour so how are the shows going?

It has been going really well so far. We are four or five shows into the tour and we have had some great crowds and the band is sounding really good. I am having a lot of fun.

– How are you finding the UK crowds and how do they compare to perhaps playing in the States?

It’s funny because it is pretty similar. People have been getting rather rambunctious (laughs). It has been interesting and a lot of fun.

We have had some late nights already and that is always a sign that something great is going on (laughs).

– For anyone who has a ticket for any of the shows of the next few weeks and perhaps hasn’t seen you live before what can they expect from the gig?

It is very live and loud – I have got a full band with me out on the tour; I have some stuff that is just acoustic and with a guitar but most of it is full on rock and roll with electric guitars.

So they can definitely expect some volume and some movement so don’t be scared to get out there and dance a bit.

– You have recorded some great albums in recent years but how much do you enjoy being out on the road? Is it the best part of the job?

It is. I have always looked at it as a love/hat relationship sometimes because sometimes it is good and sometimes it is rough (laughs). But it is just part of the experience and part of adventure.

And it is the kind of stuff that when you get home you write about- the good and the bad time because you can’t have it all.

Your outlook when you are going into it is to just keep a positive mindset and be open minded and try to make the best of every situation.

– You released Tomorrowland earlier this year so how have you found the response so far as it does seen to have gone down really well?

Yeah, it is always different. For a band like me I don’t really get crazy exposure with the record so sometimes it does take a while to circulate around and get out to fans.

Not a lot of people know the songs right off the bat when we go out touring so we do try to mix it up a bit and play some stuff off the older records as well.

But for the most part it has been really good and the fans that have showed up have the record and know the songs and seem to be really enjoying it so far.

– And while the record does have plenty of the acoustic guitar sounds that you are well known for this album is perhaps a little heavier than your previous recordings. So how would you describe the sound of this new record? And what did you decide to take your sound down a slightly different path?

I had some time off at home when I was recording this record and I had been playing a lot more electric guitar and that was really the big influence on this record.

I was really just sitting around and experimenting the electric guitar and then I wrote most of the songs with the electric guitar so it really set the pace for it.

My last record was very acoustic and stripped down and a lot of the songs tended to be really personal and so it was a bit sad to play these songs every night because they were slow and acoustic.

So with this record I just wanted to concentrate on having some fun with the songs and really enjoy playing them live.

When you can get out there and turn the electric guitar amps up a bit and rock out for me it helps bring out a sense of humour to it as well.

– This is your fourth studio album so how do you feel that you have developed as both a musician and a songwriter since that debut release back in 2007?

I feel like I have definitely grown up a bunch and I have travelled around quite a bit since the release of that record.

I think with every record it is like a new chapter in my life with new experiences and places that you go around to – especially travelling around Europe, UK and overseas you get the chance to experience different cultures and countries and hearing different people’s points of view on things.

It is a humbling experience when you travel around and you meet people all over the world and I take all that into consideration when I am writing songs at home.

The more that we travel and the older that I get to is guess you get more experienced and you have more to think about and contemplate. So I guess it just broadens your horizons a little bit more and there are always doors always opening up.

I guess learning as musician as well so I am trying to learn and to grow and be inspired by new things. It is always expanding and growing and leaving yourself open to be inspired by new things.

– This album was perhaps a little different because you released it on your own label for the very first time so why did you decide to make it an independent release?

Well the big thing is I think that it is a lot more accessible for musicians and people in my situation with social media. My wife and I had already started a company and we were lot of doing a lot of the stuff in house already.

The main think is it is a lot more accessible these days as you can reach out to your fans directly and let them know when you have new music or when you are coming to town and playing shows. We just prefer the in-house and home team sell.

– How much have you enjoyed the freedom that comes with that independence?

It’s nice, especially when you get out on the road and you are touring a lot because you know at the end of the day it is all coming back home and not to somebody who is just sat at a desk waiting for you to go out and work for it (laughs).

We know that it is all coming home and all of the hard work that we put into it we feel like we are getting something out of it. It is just a good feeling working for ourselves and no one looks out for my best interests more than she does and vice versa.

– So many artists are now working on their own labels but they do find it a challenge so what challenges or difficulties have you faced?

I don’t think that there have been too many problems with it. You have got to wake up in the morning and you can’t be scared of stamping envelopes and send them out – it is just another level of work.

But we have always been a do it yourself kind of group and we have always made out living our on the road singing for our supper and so on. It’s not that big a deal to us to sit in an office and stamp a few envelopes.

– And now that you do have the label is it something that you are going to use to just release your own music or are you looking to bring other bands and artist on to it as well?

For right now it is just the stuff that we are working on as we are not that far into the game yet.

– You have also got a whole new band playing on the record this time around so how did you find working with these new musicians?

It was great. I met a guy called Justin Stanley, he co-produced the record with me, and he brought in a drummer called Matt Sherrod and his wife actually played bass and another friend of theirs played guitar.

It has been great mixing it up a bit and they are all really talented musicians and I feel like I have been learning a lot from them as well. It brings something new into the project and that has been really inspiring.

– You have mentioned your producer Justin already so how did that collaboration come about?

I met Justin when… he was one of the first people that I met when I went out to Los Angeles and we just hit it off and became friends. We recorded some stuff and I just kept in touch with him over the years.

With this last record I just thought that I would produce it myself and just find a really good engineer to help me work on it. He was one of the first guys that I called because he is a fantastic engineer but it is also a great producer.

I went had lunch with him one day and talked about what I wanted to do and we just went into the studio and went at it – and that was it.

– So where did your love of music start?

I guess it started when I was a kid and listening to records. I have always been a fan of music but I didn’t really get into playing until I was about seventeen or eighteen years old – I never really thought that I had much musical talent.

When I picked up the guitar and started learning a few chords I guess I just got bit by the music bug because it has stuck with me.

– Finally what is coming up for you leading into 2013?

I am just looking to tour more – we have got a few more weeks over here in Europe. Then I will be heading back home where I will take some time off for the holidays. Then I will start touring again in the early spring.

Ryan Bingham “Heart Of Rhythm” Official Lyric Video

Female First

Ryan Bingham – Live Review @ Scala London

16 November 2012

Ryan Bingham is the real deal – raised in a roadhouse brothel in New Mexico, he was riding rodeo south of the Mexican frontier by the age of five. I first saw him play in a small town in Texas, with a former dope-smuggling rancher friend of mine who gave Bingham his first real break by writing about him for a local cowboy music magazine.

Bingham went on to be a poster boy for American roots music, winning an Oscar, a Grammy and Golden Globe for his contribution to the Crazy Heart soundtrack, which in turn secured him status as darling of the Nashville music scene, and an album produced by T-Bone Burnett. I was expecting – and dreading – that his second UK tour might involve the O2.

Phew. Bingham seems to have renounced much of what was on offer, to the bewilderment of American reviewers who worry that “political statements” might “jeopardise his career”. Having left Burnett, his record label and studio, Bingham appeared in London with a band paying respect to his cowboy-rock roots. The musicians were happiest when off the leash, delivering polished but tempestuous rock’n’roll to drive Bingham’s songs on an insurgent new album – searing indictments of unjust and divided America, whether Obama won or not.

Of course, Bingham played to the crowd with his Oscar-winning The Weary Kind by way of an encore, and what has become a rollicking all-American favourite, Southside of Heaven. But the core of the set was his unrelenting Hard Times, which we should now see as having been the shape of things to come when it featured on early tours. The evening had hardly begun when we hit Western Shore, dedicated to “all the homeless kids living in streets and alleys, and I guess you have that here too”.

Those of us who already knew Flower Bomb, and its comfortless sketch of mass unemployment, hunger and medication for stress, did not necessarily know it had been inspired by Banksy’s mural of a boy throwing the same – it was sung with that raw voice Bingham has perfected, the sandpaper edge now turned to gravel and dust.

If he owed his early style to Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, he seems recently to have consulted Rage Against the Machine, but with a smile as well as a scowl. Post-Oscar success, Bingham emerges on this tour not as the rising star mainstream America planned him to be, but something far more compelling: a counter-star, a truly great rock protest singer.

DPT: ‘Flower Bomb’ by Ryan Bingham (Live, Acoustic & HD)

Ed Vulliamy