Beans on Toast plus support play a cracking feel-good gig.
The opening act Truckstop Honeymoon gave us quirky country/bluegrass delivered with energy and charm. The two are a couple with four children and ten albums together — the perfect romantic idea of a touring duo! I liked that they were a real duo, rather than a singer and guitar player; both of them sang lead at points, and swapped around instruments. Their song about friends they'd lost touch with in New Orleans was particularly great; touching while showing real range.
The gig was held at the newly refurbished Bullingdon. It's much improved — a separate entrance and some renovation has turned it into a really nice space. Some people noted how strange it was that the gig was so early and the venue curfew was 10pm. Call me properly officially old now, but I thought this was great. It's a week night. Everyone wants to go to bed. Brilliant!
Beans on Toast is an extremely amiable and charismatic performer. His songs are Bragg-style modern protest folk, with a heavy emphasis on booze and drugs (one of his best loved songs is called MDMAmazing). While not very in depth, his politics are very positive and accessible. His modern take on peace and love is sweet and very genuine. His guitar playing and voice are solid, but it's his stage presence that really steals the show.
The best bit of his set was the chat in-between songs. The story about a girl whose boyfriend stole his songs was pretty much stand-up material. There was also a nice dose of good natured audience interaction; he shared a bottle of Jack Daniels with us all, and later made us all sit on the floor for a song about traffic jams.
He used Truckstop Honeymoon and another musician as a band in a few of the songs, which worked very well. They claim not to have rehearsed the set properly, and the feel of friends just jamming on stage was lovely.
This was a really great night. Beans on Toast is a warm and engaging performer, delivering a perfect chilled midweek party. Catch him when he comes back next year.