Catch Beans on Toast at a live show and you’ll know why he’s been booked to play Glastonbury Festival every year since 2007. His traditional folk storytelling on contemporary issues is a joy to listen to. His humble manner and low-key songs on love, the environment, politics, drugs, alcohol and everything in-between is at once thought provoking and reassuring; making you think, laugh, and just enjoy the moment. There was plenty of love in the room at the sold out show in Southampton, UK, mid-way through his latest thirty date tour.
With a back catalogue including twelve albums, Beans had written his set list on a small folding table, a work of art in itself, (indeed it was being raffled for a homeless charity at the end of the tour), admitting he was less likely to lose a table(t) than a piece of paper. He was also rather pleased with his set production, complete with a vase of dried flowers his wife had suggested, a backdrop, and lights he’d bought himself; ordinarily just turning up with his acoustic guitar and playing. He opened the show with “Back out on the Road”, a superb love letter to touring, the “people and the places” via his usual politics, love and sharp wit. It was only the first song and the crowd were his, singing along, smiling, and having the best time.
Plenty of songs resonated with the crowd, covering more ground that you could possibly imagine from “Against the War” to “The Chicken Song”, serious messages with talented attention-grabbing lyrics, and sing-along hooks. Crowd favourites included “Jamie and Lilly”, which Beans told us is about two people that each wrote to him asking for a song to be dedicated to their partner, neither knew the other had written. Instead of a dedication, he wrote them a song, and have since became great friends. It’s a song about a nurse and a teacher, and it’s just lovely. Another highlight was his drug, festival, comic storytelling on “M.D.M. Amazing”, plenty in the crowd singing back every word.
Beans on Toast is a lovely, genuine bloke and an incredibly talented musician and songwriter. A breath of fresh air amid all that’s wrong with society. Taking serious issues and making you smile. It’s clear he loves his job, loves playing independent music venues; and the crowd loves him back just as much.
Supporting on a number of dates on the tour was Jack Francis, a superbly talented songwriter. Opening with the beautiful song “A Little Love” from his latest self-titled album. A treat to catch live.
Also supporting was a solo set from Siobhán, minus her Sunset Haze band. She told us she’d been in the audience to see Beans on Toast in this very venue three years ago, and what a privilege to now be on stage supporting. A lovely opener to superb night of live music.