Review: Beans on Toast at The Loft, Southampton, March 16

Review: Beans on Toast at The Loft, Southampton, March 16

by Lewis MacLean.

Last night was the first time I got dressed up and went out for Beans On Toast.

The LOFT in Bedford Place was already pretty busy by the time support act Jack Francis took his well-earned place on the stage. When Jack started singing I immediately thought ’this guy is a natural’. I had heard the name before so it was great to put a voice to it. There was only him and his guitar but it was more than enough to do the job and somehow between them, they filled the stage with unquestionably musical authority. He easily entertained the crowd. In a way he was the exact opposite of Beans but they could both occupy a significant amount of respect from the audience.

Beans on Toast arrived on the stage about 9ish with a new table. Beans on Toast was written in light with a small dried flower that surpassed all odds of survival 20 days into a 30 day tour. Yet somehow the attention gravitated towards the small wooden guest star – a sort of sacred wooden scroll with the set list written on, that somehow mystically  dominated its own space. 

 This is my fourth or fifth time seeing him live. At a Beans gig there is always an easy-pour charisma on stage from the man that seems to guide the events of the evening through. In my mind, It was reassuring to see such a well-blended age range with a newer young group camped out by the stage, hanging onto his every word like some beloved tribal elder. This is justified because Beans has a lot of substantial things to say. They were relevant ten years ago and will likely continue to be relevant for longer because there will always be a demand for a man (or woman) shouting out at the world and calling it for what it is.

His songs are often short and sweet and after several years it is amazing how few stick in my head but they are encased in a uniquely inoffensive charm that comes back to you once you see him on stage again. If I am honest, at a Beans and Toast gig you don’t actually go for the music, you go for a sing along and some kind of warm ideological companionship that magically tops up both your cynicism and optimism at the same time.  I don’t always remember his lyrics until he sings them, when they crop up from the past like a time capsule but the odd song like War on War is a clear mantra not easily forgotten.

Interestingly, he has an entire song about Prince Harry but somehow swerves any kind of topical anti-Meghan nuances. (One song actual references Prince Charles not taking the throne which may seem outdated now but let’s just wait and see.) There are these little monologues that are sprinkled in between the songs, bringing fresh perspectives to them. There are many endearing stories to furnish the gig but it’s so refreshing to hear an artist on stage talk about oldskool ideals like peace, love and putting people first. Since the X-Factor, a lot of rhetoric on stage has been about driving ambition and obtaining personal success to some invisible universal goal of stardom that somehow benefits everyone but serves only a few. In a world obsessed with material gain, it’s nice to step inside a sanctuary for an hour or so.

His music seems designed for maximum enjoyment at sunny music festivals. So on a rainy Thursday night, in a place that sits atop a noisy complex of trendy late night bars, it takes special someone to bring out a packed room of people from all ages. It takes even more to keep them there after several years.


  • Picture by Curt Walsh.


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