IVW 2019 GIG REVIEW: Beans On Toast, Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms 31.01.2019.

Two dates into Beans On Toast’s A Bird In The Hand Tour Beans proves that his charisma and magnetism is far more powerful than the snow with Beans at his last check selling almost the same amount of tickets at this venue 3 years in a row. This fact amuses Beans, who told us about it in his interview and then again told the crowd during his performance.

‘[Jess’s] honesty combined with her skill that wins over a crowd that probably would rather not be won over.’

  The night isn’t just about Beans. He is competently supported by singer-songwriter Jess Morgan. Jess does everything right as a support act. She confidently takes her place centre stage showing no visible nerves despite few of the audience having heard of her and most are swilling pints getting drunk ready for the Beans On Toast banter and singalongs. Jess’s songs mimic her image of femininity with a tomboy twist and it’s this honesty combined with her skill that wins over a crowd that probably would rather not be won over. Jess plays a half hour set littered with predominantly romantic songs taking a different approach to many of her contemporaries, talking about the ‘warts and all’ side of romance. Jess tells us of first dates when she needed to be ‘kissed quick’ so she didn’t vomit on her date and the reality that missing someone’s shoulders in bed whilst on tour is far more emotionally painful than the physical feeling of their feet in your back in the middle of the night.  

‘Beans On Toast with a full band and in a venue… fear not readers, you’re going love it… your next duty to yourself is to purchase tickets.’

  Beans On Toast with a full band and in a venue; this feels like an oxymoronic sentence but yes it did happen and there’s a whole tour of the same! I’m sure we weren’t the only ones who’ve only seen Beans in a festival setting without a band and worried how his music would translate with these changes. Fear not readers, you’re going to love it and if you don’t have your tickets yet your next duty to yourself is to purchase some.  The set up played out similarly to The Black Keys live (with the band coming and going for sections) when they were doing exactly as Beans is, flirting with a full band set up. It’s hard to say if any of them (Beans solo, Beans with band, Beans with band but him just singing) work better than others but all work well so we will leave Beans to steer us in whatever direction he feels works.  

‘[Beans] is the musical Tommy Cooper of our generation’

  Beans is a consummate raconteur who has his audience singing every word and following his every instruction whether it’s a one-armed dance-move or a singalong; he is the musical Tommy Cooper of our generation making light out of the audience’s confusion of when to come in with the sing along. Throughout Beans’ performance (and probably his life) he makes jokes about himself in a confident and self-deprecating manner. Beans requests songs multiple times, at one point getting a request for a song which spoke about the Olympic swimming pool in its final verse.

Beans confesses that he was very angry about this pool being built originally but now uses it on a regular basis so skipped the last verse to put his ‘confessional’ instead.  Other jokes in a self-deprecating manner include him introducing his final song, a song about capitalism but stating in the intro that he will be hypocritical and heading straight to the merch desk afterwards ‘to sell you shit’. This sums up Beans, he is a take it or leave it guy who has a dedicated audience who he respects and gives them his all, checking his phone multiple times to make sure he played right up to curfew.  Beans does not try and be anything that he is not; his songs are real and his comedy hilarious. Beans On Toast, part folk singer, part comedian; the only question is will we ever see a more comedy-based Billy Bailey style tour? Only Beans knows and as far as we’re concerned he knows more than anyone what works with his style so we’re happy for him to decide. For all these reasons above (and many more we could pack out pages of writing with) Beans will continue to sell as many if not more tickets year on year.  

Words James Wadsworth. Photos Simon Clay (taken at Patterns Brighton)