REVIEW: Beans On Toast, The Cluny, Newcastle

Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford
Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford
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Most musicians who played at the weekend will have made mention of the Paris terror attacks, and their determination to keep playing in the face of music being targeted by terrorism.

Beans On Toast - Essex singer-songwriter Jay McAllister - took it one step further, telling a member of the audience who shouted anti-Muslim comments to get out of his gig if that was his attitude to what happened.

Before beginning his set, 'drunk-folk' singer Beans said he'd done lots of soul-searching since Friday over whether it's right at such a time to be at a gig enjoying yourself, which is what many of the Paris victims started their night doing.

He'd concluded that the answer is yes, and urged his audience to embrace love, peace, hope and tolerance, not hate, as the world works out how to deal with the threat of terrorism.

Love is one of the main topics Beans writes about, having fallen head over heels with girlfriend Lizzie B, who is the subject of many of his songs.

Several of them made the setlist tonight, including My New Number One, Keep You and Microwave Popcorn, but none of them were as good as his new paean to her, I'm Home When You Hold Me, one of the highlights of his new album.

Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford

Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford

Rolling Up The Hill, his seventh full-length in as many years, is due out on December 1 - his 35th birthday - on Xtra Mile Recordings.

Several of its tracks featured in the setlist tonight - The Mudhills Crew, Robin Hood Costume, the never-more-apt God Is A Cartoonist and Africaburn - and they were received with the same gusto as more familiar songs.

His words tend to resonate because they're about things most ordinary people can relate to - teenage escapades, bankers getting away with creating the financial crisis, religions which preach hate, and drinking and taking drugs.

Beans has been singing his simple but clever, often very opinionated songs about such everyday matters for 10 years, getting his point across with lots of humour.

Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford

Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford

Tour manager and long-time collaborator Bobby Banjo was, as usual, by his side on guitar, and on this tour they've been joined by Kansas-based husband and wife duo Mike and Katy West, aka Truckstop Honeymoon.

They warmed up the crowd with their catchy blend of bluegrass and rock 'n' roll, with a song about their old neighbours in their native New Orleans raising 14 kids in a two-room house striking a particular chord.

Beans seems like an easy bloke to get along with, as long as you don't hold any extreme views. Like the best comedians, his material comes from observing what's going on around him, from the mundane to the world-changing.

Hence you get lyrics like "When we both get a Sunday at home my love, it's the best day for the both of us, I know I've been away a lot this year, just promise me you'll understand that my home is here, wherever on earth that maybe" (I'm Home When You Hold Me) and "24 wings for £2.99, thats 25p for each dead chicken (The Chicken Song).

Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford

Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford

He's one of those artists who's just as comfortable among his audience as on a stage in front of them, passing round the bottle of Jack Daniel's from his rider (and getting it back empty) and singing a couple of songs sat on the floor among the crowd.

And that's what gives him such a cult following and why he's promised to come back next year, and every year after that, as long as 150 people keep turning up to see him. See you next year, Jay.

Beans On Toast is joined by Truckstop Honeymoon at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford

Beans On Toast is joined by Truckstop Honeymoon at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford

Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford

Beans On Toast performing at The Cluny in Newcastle. Pics: Gary Welford