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Beans On Toast. A simple, unassuming English moniker, wholly suitable for Jay McAllister the cult folk performer from Essex. Beans is a one of a kind, if you don’t believe me then maybe the fact that he rocked up to the phoenix stage barefoot, encapsulates his unpretentious personality. The night celebrated Independent Music Week- as Beans took the opportunity to mention- while also voicing some sincere criticisms of characterless O2 areas. Beans featured alongside a variety of local talent, first up was Rory Matthews who graced the stage with an impressive range of riffs. A quintessential teenage singer songwriter, Rory sensitively juxtaposed his more ‘poppy’ records against the mournful picking of some of the sadder songs.

Next up was Rapha Ghetti, a real gem on the Exeter scene, the shaggy-haired Ghetti raised raw lyrics over an inviting backdrop over piano, drum and bass backing, with a hint of jazz. Ghetti was at his best when most aggressive and this passion was best harnessed with vocal effects as his anguished lyricism was perfectly complemented by a haunting echo. The tightness of Ghetti’s band also cannot be understated and they provided the foundation for what was a breathtakingly good performance.

A Beans on Toast gig isn’t for those who seek complete musical precision, however Beans’ mistakes become rapidly endearing alongside his witty comments that accompany them

Next up was Beans. Strolling on, beer in hand with a slightly tired looking guitar strap around his neck, Beans cut to the chase and roused a hardy reception from a warm Exeter crowd. One particularly unique thing about a Beans on Toast concert is the level of familiarity between the audience and artist, this was exemplified throughout by Beans’ willingness to let the audience members choose half of his set — though one impish audience member tried to push this and was quickly shut down — this entertaining set was broken up by a variety of entertaining anecdotes. Beans’ long history with touring and the music industry made for a hugely amusing evening, one particular tongue-in-cheek moment came before he launched into a number concerning the aforementioned O2 academy arenas. Beans acknowledged that the 10 year-old-song’s lyrics concerning overpriced arena’s charging £4.50 pints hadn’t exactly aged well, given most punters on the night were charged virtually the same. Characteristically Beans humorously adapted the song and began to attack the £6.00 pint, resulting in universal laughter across the audience. Beans is possibly one of the few to turn a blundering moment into a highlight, even he appreciated this oddity when one of the biggest cheers of the night came after he “f**ked” up a song. A Beans on Toast gig isn’t for those who seek complete musical precision, however Beans’ mistakes become rapidly endearing alongside his witty comments that accompany them.

the audience chanted back beans’ decimation of the far-right with adoration and a real sense of oneness

Given Beans’ status as a folk singer, it was almost obligatory that he honed his gravelly voice over political undertones, this was seen best through his performances of ‘2016’ and ‘A Whole Lot Of Loving’, both of which tear apart populism and the rise of the right. The audience chanted back Beans’ decimation of the far-right with adoration and a real sense of oneness, as a result Beans is very conscious of the impact of his music, both politically and socially. Support for socially liberal causes have previously provokes a crisis of sorts when his hit ‘MDMAmazing’ prompted a young fan to tell Beans that it was this very song that inspired him to start taking drugs as Beans ruefully accounted on the night. This instance encapsulates what is so interesting and inviting about Beans’ message and music, although the laid-back exterior and diy production makes Beans’ music ideal to passively listen to, the hard-hitting lyrics are touching and thought provoking, take Beans’ response to the fan through the track ‘The Children of Bedford’ – which he later performed- tells an autobiographical story of Beans’ experiences with drugs with the punchlines ‘don’t take my advice’ and ‘just because I’ve got a song about MDMA/ well that don’t mean that I think you should take it every day” being particular highlights.

Beans’ warm nature made the night unforgettable and intimate, the image of multiple fans lovingly placing pints onto the stage for him to work his way through was unique and demonstrates the magnetism of the man. Watching Beans on Toast live is a truly memorable experience, don’t miss out.

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