Beans on Toast is a self confessed drunk folk singer, he has amassed a cult following over the years that he’s been plying his trade and has had a very successful 2014 where he opened up proceedings for his mate and label partner Frank Turner on his tour and also played alongside Flogging Molly when they toured America, playing to 100,000 people in just one week. Yes, you could say that things are on the up for Beans, his new album ‘The Grand Scheme of Things’ was recently released and judging by the rate they were flying out of his hands at the end of the gig, I would say that he was eating and sleeping well that night!
We arrived a little earlier than planned to hook up with Beans’ two support acts to line up some interview time, we did just that and popped into the communal dressing room to say hi to Jay (Beans) before leaving and venturing down to the bar to load up on bottled water and sweeties (we’re SO rock n’ roll…)
First up was Bristol singer songwriter Lori Campbell who told the audience that she was ‘going to play some nice songs for them’ and opened up with a great track called ‘Johnny Malone’ which she said was about ‘drinking too much when you should be doing other things’. She then sang about a river ‘Dark Waters’ maybe? her tender vocals were soothing on the ear, which for me was a bonus as I had terrible earache (which has led to a nasty infection). She effortlessly blended jazz, pop and traditional folk to create her enticing trademark sound.
We caught up with Lori after her set and had a good chat, you can see the interview in our ‘Introducing’ section in a couple of weeks.
Next up was self confessed Jesus lookalike, Mr Will Varley, he admitted that he is a folk singer songwriter and the genre is the most hated in the world and he loves everything about it! He took a little while to get going, commenting on just how quiet the room was compared to other venues where there was a lot of heckling and other less salubrious banter, at that point a man of lesser means shouted up ‘Get on with it you (insert crass name for female genetalia)’, I removed the expletive as I am a gentleman and I appreciate that ladies may be reading this review so to save their blushes…..
After he had stopped laughing and admitting that was the BEST heckle he had heard in a long time, he fired into his set with a song about how we’re ‘all being fucked’….which was a new song that Will had not played live many times before, midway through, he stopped and had to move his stand closer to him as he was struggling to read the words! Honesty IS always the best policy when on stage in front of a roomful of strangers….believe me! He saved the day by telling the packed room that he was a professional and liked to drop in mistakes like this so that people think he is a regular kind of guy!
He played an amusing song about an unexpected item in the checkout area, he sang about being a waster, sitting about, watching TV and admitted that he had been told about such a lifestyle by a ‘friend’ of his, very funny! Will said that he had some CD’s for sale after his set and to come down the front where his CD box was situated, he said that he had some by ABBA, The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac, first come, first served…..
His final songs were themed on the classic 419 Advance Fee Fraud that came out of Nigeria many moons ago and how he might have been embroiled in it and something about Nick Clegg owning a Gameboy Advance? I was literally rolling about in laughter at this stage so please excuse me whilst I forget…. Will Varley can often be found in his local in Deal, Kent, sipping Guinness and talking to strangers, if you’re in the area, why not pop in and see if he’s about!
I had already caught up with Will before his set, the interview will be available to consume in a week or so as I have so many Introducing features lined up at the moment…watch this space!
So, to the finale, the headline act of the evening, Mr Jay McAllister aka Beans on Toast was in high spirits and bounded on the stage to rapturous applause, dressed in his trademark baggy T-Shirt, cargo pants, barefooted with his cap and sweatband, this guy has such a following, when I interviewed him recently, he wasn’t even aware that the Exeter gig had sold out, this also happened at Bristol (and no doubt other venues). He echoed Will Varley’s comments about how well behaved the audience were and took a minute or two to tune his guitar, apologising profusely and finally realising that he had left the capo on from the last song hence it was even more out of tune than before….Schoolboy error rectified, he carried on with his set.
His set is never guided by any form of order, he picks song at random and invites the audience to shout up requests for him, this proved way too much for one young lady on the front row and Beans had to ignore her on a couple of occasions and let someone else have a go! The subject matter of his songs included (in no particular order), chicken farming, MDMA, his fiancé Lizzy and her cooking, drugs, sex, love, relationships, getting wasted, beer, politics, stinging nettles and honeymooning in New orleans….phew!
Later on in his set he told a tale of how someone was trying to woo a young lady and played her a B.O.T. song on his guitar, claiming that he had written it himself, Beans wasn’t adverse to this type of behaviour as it got the guy laid! He asked for a random topic to be suggested, someone shouted ‘Buy One Get One Free’ and off he went, rattling out a couple of verses and a chorus about just that, amazing!
Jay got Will Varley back on stage for a duet where they sang ’Stinging Nettles’, he said that the song gets better every night and by the end of the tour, they would have nailed it! He also asked Lori Campbell back on stage to join him for ‘NOLA Honeymoon’ where she dazzled the crowd with her amazing skills (making a trumpet sound with her voice and hands), it was quite a spectacle! This went down superbly and the crowd were eager for more.
Jay admitted that he hadn’t been advised what time to play until so he would play on a little later, the sound man at the back was waving his arms and clearly getting agitated, but on he went, knocking out another couple of gems that had the audience singing along to his witty, rhyming and politically topical lyrics. Throughout the set, he was joined by a guy called Bob who happily played Jay’s guitar, strummed a banjo alongside him and played the harmonica, generally helping to pull the whole thing together, he even got busy selling CD’s for all 3 artists at the end of the night, what a guy!
Towards the end of his set, a young gentleman who had obviously imbibed a little too much shandy throughout the evening (and maybe a handful of disco biscuits) was invited up on stage where he proceeded to kick over a pint of cola, dangerously near the banjo, he was quickly ejected from the stage and normal (well, normalish) behaviour was resumed. He ended with his classic track ‘The Price of Rice’ which again, had the crowd dancing around and wishing that the set had only just began.
Jay is an amazing person, he is approachable, friendly, more than happy to engage with fans as if they were his best mates, I guess he knows what it’s like to be a struggling, drunken folk singer, I hope that he gets a lot of festival coverage in 2015 as it’s about time that the population had the chance to hear him perform and listen to what he has to say! I understand that he is getting married to Lizzy (he may have mentioned her a couple of times during the gig) on December 22nd, unsure where, but wherever it may be, we hope the sun shines for you both and that you have a truly memorable day, I’m sure he would have written a song or two about it to play at the meal after the ceremony….