Beans on Toast – Live @ The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth February 2nd 2022

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Overall Score: 8.5/10
Musicianship: 8/10
Song-a-long-ability: 10/10
Banter: 10/10
Pros: Great personality, great tunes, great night
Cons: The Doors cover didn't really work and instead of playing so long, could have got a 2nd support act to help expose upcoming talent?

Summer may still seem a long way away as the dark February nights make the winds of Storm Eunice even more miserable, but inside the iconic Portsmouth venue, The Wedgewood Rooms, there is a warmth and happiness while Kitty Liv plays her own brand of blues tinged music armed with just her trusty electric guitar, until her last song, when she puts the guitar down and produces a harmonica.

Again, this is just her on stage and I’m not sure how music savvy you are dear reader, so allow me to explain that singing and playing harmonica at the same time is very difficult, unless you happen to be born with a second mouth.

As Kitty starts to sing, then swaps to harmonica, then back to singing, then back to harmonica, the entire room is silent. There is just one girl on stage and everyone is watching and listening, right up until she thanks the crowd and they erupt into cheers and whoops.

This is live music.

This is winning the crowd over.

This is the beginning of a success story.

But this is a Beans on Toast gig – there’s more to come.

With the lack of any backline or drum hardware, the 30 minute gap is really more of a tradition at this point to allow smokers to smoke and people to chat, but then Kitty returns to the stage to pick up a bass, while Jack Flanegan picks up a guitar, to start the intro to A Beautful Place, while Beans himself triumphantly takes the stage, all smiles and cheeky Essex swagger before moving into another Survival of the Friendliest tune in the form of Blow Volcano Blow,before asking the crowd “how does everyone feel about the next hour and a half forgetting all the shit?”

Yes you read that right.

One man and a guitar (alright and a couple of backing musicians to help pad it out a bit), took a stage, in a few hundred capacity club on a Tuesday night, to play for 90 minutes on a £15 ticket. Does Ed Sheerhan even do that long? He probably does to be fair, but at his prices so he bloody should…

Part of the appeal with Mr On-Toast is, watching him is like watching one of your mates decide to get up on an empty stage with an acoustic guitar and just bang out a couple of tunes for shits and giggles, and to be honest that is the total vibe of the three people on stage – it’s three friends, having a jam at a party full of their friends.

We get a game of “how old is Jack?” (he’s 29) and the great thing about doing a one man show (I should point out Jack and Kitty leave the stage for a while) is it allows the opportunity to actually appease those fans at gigs constantly shouting out song requests (you know those fans), so we get treated to Beer and Burger and, of course, MDM-Amazing, which Beans informs everyone in attendance is his most popular song and the only one which isn’t a true story – or at least the final verse.

After playing a song about his daughter (Album of the Day) and then a song about chicken (The Chicken Song), the band (as they are) retake the stage and Beans sings from the middle of the audience, insisting they help out on vocal duties during Humans. Things dip then with an ill advised cover of Break on Through by The Doors. It’s unclear why this didn’t work – could be the lack of drums, could be the guitar really needed to be louder for that one, could be the man himself just doesn’t have the voice for it to work, or it could just be the wrong place and/or time for the song – but when Let’s Get Married Again hits, it hits perfectly and then he closes with tear-jerker Love Yourself.

Coming back for the encore Beans on Toast (or Jay, if you prefer) continues to be one of the most affable songwriters in the country by insisting the audience give a round of applause for the venue itself, giving them a much deserved show of respect, before singing about LFT’s and fuel shortages, finishing another two songs before the end, because he couldn’t remember the rest, banging out a cracking rendition of Jamie and Lilly and then closing what seemed to be a never ending gig (in a good way) with a song about Southern Water.

Rapturous applause inevitably followed, while those involved in the evening’s entertainment vow to see fans at the merch stand shortly.

Beans on Toast is a man so likeable, that every live event is just a chance to hang out with the man and sing a few fun songs and just “forgetting all the shit”.

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