Beans on Toast, Voodoo, Belfast
Less than twelve months after his last visit to Belfast Jay McAllister, AKA Beans on Toast is back in town to impart his lyrical genius on the good people of this city.
Voodoo is the venue and special guests are local trio Fox Colony. Former members of Brand New Friend have come together on this new project which has the feel of American Indie music bands like The Lemonheads, They Might be Giants and Cake but with the unmistakable underlying Northern Ireland twang in the vocals.
They write short, snappy tunes about random things in life. Working on supermarket tills for one.
Standout tunes on the night were Baseball Bat and Fragile and they tried their hardest to bring the audience as close to the action as possible. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.
Fox Colony are not quite the finished article but they have a rawness that is definitely infectious.
Beans on Toast is a one man story of life. 38 years old and hailing from Braintree in Essex he takes the audience tonight on a journey through the things that matter most to him in the world. Children, love, politics, the envirnoment and chicken.
Bathed in green light and standing with a pint of Guinness this is a storytelling masterclass.
He is a mix of Frank Turner, his long term friend, Australian songwriting comedian Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson and strains of Michael Rosenberg AKA Passenger. He is bored, like most of the rest of us, of Brexit and writes songs full of poignant humour.
Its wonderful that if he feels the need to tell a story in the middle of a song, that is exactly what he does. He stops mid verse to tell it and when that story is done, he sings the rest of the song as if nothing is out of place.
The audience cannot fail to love this guy.
He performs Magic, a song written about the birth of his daughter. He also informs us she walked today for the first time and you get the feeling there are people in the venue who just want to get up on stage and give him a hug.
In A Whole Lot of Loving he sings that he does not want to worry about the worries of the world but just wants to get busy, being happy. It is a good way to live.
When he plays M.D.M Amazing he talks about the people who ask him if he gets bored of playing the song all the time. He plays it because he loves it. He has done some boring jobs in his time and being a singer on stage is not one of them.
The song Alexa was his own social experiment. He reckons it worked and he forgot the words to the song mid verse at one point. Someone in the crowd prompted him and he carried on regardless. Priceless. And just so you know he solved the world problem of tax avoidance mid song. This man is a genius to be honest.
When you hear the Deutschland mix of The Chicken Song in a venue in Belfast then you know you are in a parallel universe. There are no first world problems tonight. It’s a song that tells us of all the different types of chicken products available. That simple.
He doesn’t have much love for the Royal Family. In fact it is fair to say he doesn’t have much love for a lot of things in the world and that is ok. Harry in The Helicopter is a song he wrote about his disgust about Prince Harry’s comments about how flying a helicopter and shooting people is just like a video game.
Beans on Toast loves what he does and it is so obvious from his performance tonight. He just is happy to be standing there and his interaction with the audience is what makes the night. Although sometimes he has to remind them when he expects them to cheer in a song.
He writes love songs too, they are all about his wife and borne out in I’m Home When You Hold Me
Here at Homerton Hospital spells out how the people in the hospital where his daughter was born come from a wide variety of backgrounds. This make up of people, living in harmony in the world is all about.
Beans on Toast is a protest singer……… of sorts. Maybe not setting out to be that, his songs just tell his view on life. The songs resonate about the things he gets angry about and the things, more often than not make him happy.
Charlie is sung in not just a Reggae vibe but in a Reggae voice as well. And why? “Because tonight Belfast you have earned it”.
He stops mid flow in Great American Novel to tell us he had a personal invite from the curator of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore to visit. All on the back of it getting a mention in the song. The world is indeed a wonderful place.
He lets us know he is on his last pint of Guinness now and will wrap up soon. Another Year talks again about the birth of his daughter, something he holds close to his heart and the night finishes with The Price of Rice, detailing his anger at the unfair distribution of wealth in the world but reminding us to enjoy the little things in life.
So many people in the world don’t love what they are doing every day. It’s safe to say that Beans on Toast has decided he does. It’s a good way to live.