I mean, I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that one of my all-time favourite artists is Brian Fallon right? So when I found out that this tour was coming through Chicago on my birthday, September 20, I took the opportunity to pay the “Windy City” (and my lovely friend Ashley) a visit, and take in what was a perfect show to celebrate.
Paul Cauthen, with his southern drawl and snakeskin cowboy boots, kicked off the night with a modern, but still classically country set. Vocally, he is reminiscent of greats like Elvis Presley or Hank Williams Jr., and with an honest, still slightly rough around the edges stage persona, he is definitely worth getting to the show early for. If you’re lucky enough to get to one of the remaining shows on this tour, you can also pick up an advance copy of his upcoming album “My Gospel”, which is to be released on October 14th.
Ryan Bingham was up next, the first of the co-headliners on this tour. Being admittedly only somewhat familiar with his music, my interest was heightened by the rave reviews I received about him and his band from a fan of his in line. She certainly wasn’t wrong: Ryan and his band were absolutely incredible live. He had a set list prepared that was crafted to appeal to everyone in the crowd, from the die hard Bingham fans to the new listeners, and he actively encouraged participation among the audience members. Brian Fallon made several appearances during the set as well to join in on songs like the Springsteen classic “Atlantic City”, as well as Ryan’s “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So”. While this is certainly music with a definitive leaning towards country, I would hesitate to label it strictly as such because it is apparent that there are many different genres that influence him, with country being only one. I know I’ll definitely be deep diving more of his catalog, and am definitely interested in seeing what else he’ll be releasing in the future.
It was evident that the majority of this crowd were eagerly anticipating Brian Fallon and the Crowes entrance to the stage, and he began his set with Ryan Bingham’s accompaniment on a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” that was more in line with The Live Anthology version. From there, he and the Crowes fired off favourites from his “Painkillers” album; songs like “A Wonderful Life” and “Rosemary” had the crowd in a frenzy, while “Steve McQueen” and “Honey Magnolia” scaled things down momentarily. Brian was in excellent form, imparting wisdom between songs about credit scores and the importance of feminism. It was clear he was enjoying himself, joking to the audience about not yelling at the mention of Chicago prior to playing “Open All Night”.
As the show wound down, the Crowes were joined on stage once again by Ryan Bingham, and by Paul Cauthen for a cover of The Traveling Wilbury’s “Handle With Care”. Having the other touring artists come out periodically to join in on songs during the evening really served to enhance the intimate and vaudeville-esque atmostphere. The lack of barrier gates and smaller stage at Park West really helped to eliminate the separation between audience and artist as well, and the vibe was relaxed and for the most part respectful. There was, of course, those one or two people in the audience who tend to be attention-seekers, but even those either gave up quietly or were contained by other audience members early on.
A surprise late addition to the setlist saw the show end with Brian and Jared Hart joining up on a beautiful acoustic rendition of NOFX’s “Linoleum”, a cover that I had yet to see them do live, and it was as lovely as expected. A perfect way to end a perfect evening.
The Brian Fallon/Ryan Bingham US tour will be continuing through the rest of September and concludes on October 2. Brian and the Crowes will be heading overseas with Chris Farren in November. For more tour dates and ticket links, visit http://thebrianfallon.tumblr.com/live