Jay McAlister, better known as Beans On Toast, took to the stage at Gorilla to play to a crowd of over-excited fans. With ten albums under his belt, Beans On Toast has rather a lot of material to play with when deciding upon a setlist. However, he managed to hit the nail on the head and play all the older songs the crowd wanted to hear, as well as fit in a handful of tracks from the new album A Bird in the Hand released back in December.
Despite playing rather tame folk songs, mostly on an acoustic guitar, the crowd were surprisingly hyped for the gig. The disposition and stage presence of Beans On Toast is seemingly as important to fans as his music is, and Beans On Toast was able to inject a remarkable amount of chaos into the gig. Getting through a fair number of beers on stage, Beans had the crowd singing parts on certain songs, as well as copying his dance move of creating a waving motion with his hand. It was impressive to see how receptive the crowd were to him and it was clear to see just how important he is to his fans.
Throughout the gig, Beans told a surprising number of anecdotes which really added to his charismatic presence on stage. These anecdotes mainly included ones about his wife and the birth of their new daughter. His wife and daughter are also the main inspiration for his album A Bird in the Hand. The transparency of Beans On Toast was surprisingly addictive and compelling to watch. He is almost more of an entertainer than a musician, and with every story he told I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a comedy show with a bit of music as oppose to a gig with a bit of comedy.
One highlight of the gig had to be the performance of his most famous song M. D. M. Amazing. During the song Beans stopped playing to tell the crowd about how often he gets asked if he is bored of playing that song after having played it for so many years. This is a question that seems to shock Beans, and he exclaimed to the crowd that this song got him to where he was and how much he loves the song. This once again showed the modesty and garrulousness of Beans On Toast, and it was really nice to see.
Beans On Toast is one of the most unpolished and primitive performers I have ever seen live. As he was jumping around on stage with a beer in one hand whilst wearing a t shirt with holes in and badly fitting cargo trousers that kept falling down, I couldn’t help but think about how unconventional he was. Yet, whilst watching his over-sized guitar strap fall off his shoulders, it became clear how he was also incredibly unique. He is someone who you would never expect to be big or make it in any way as a musician. But I think as long as he gets to play his music Beans On Toast doesn’t care how famous he is. Almost ironically, this attitude seems to be the reason why he has so many fans.