Review | Beans on Toast at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea: 'An engaging and charismatic performer'

​It’s during The War on War that Beans on Toast (Jay McAllister) – as he often does – breaks from the song to address the audience directly.
Beans on Toast at The Wedgewood Rooms. Picture by Emma TerraccianoBeans on Toast at The Wedgewood Rooms. Picture by Emma Terracciano
Beans on Toast at The Wedgewood Rooms. Picture by Emma Terracciano

​He tells us that he hadn’t intended a song from 2014 to be quite so relevant as it is today – it references Gaza. However, his plan to bring peace to the region by slipping everyone ecstasy and staging a giant rave is unlikely to be any more successful in 2024 than it was when he wrote it.

Over the past 14 years McAllister has released a new album every December 1 (his birthday) which means he has racked up a sizable back catalogue.

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Originally categorised as a modern folky with a love of all things hedonistic and a neat line in smart social commentary, across the years fans have seen him fall in love, get married, become a father (all chronicled in his songs) and expand his musical palette.

He has toured either solo or as anything from a duo to – as he is now – a five-piece band. As Jay puts it of his current band: “Two weeks ago we didn’t know each other, now we’ve all got matching tattoos.”

And what a band – all of them (bar the drummer) play a support slot each night on the tour too. This additional talent also allows McAllister to put the guitar down more often and properly embrace the role of frontman.

Always an engaging and charismatic performer, it’s nice to see him being able to stretch out more.

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Sometimes they’re a bit country, sometimes quite bluesy, and yes, a bit folky, it’s great to hear some familiar songs get reworked live too.

Tonight he focuses on the more uplifting side of his work – new album The Toothpaste and The Tube is mostly a celebration of the life’s positives and we get a few of it’s songs tonight – including opener Back Out On The Road and The Dragicorn (about a creation of his daughter’s), then there’s a favourite oldie like I’m Home When You Hold Me, are by turns rousing, sweet without being twee, and capable of making you want to hold your loved ones that much closer.

Given the chemistry and camaraderie on display, here’s hoping he can get this band in the studio for the next album...

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