December 10, 2016
“I’m a lot louder than you because I’ve got the electricity!”
Son of Dave took the stage silently, looking and acting like an old-school blues man dressed in black.
There were clues that this wouldn’t be an introspective noodling set, however, as he picked out audience members during the songs: “You can’t trust *him/he’s a rattlesnake!”
Then he took the classic blues line “the girl was sixteen” to task for making him feel uncomfortable. With a knowing grin, he updated it for modern sensibilities: “she was just *seventeen*!”
Soon, everything became clear. The hot water bottle came out (!), the black shirt came off and Son of Dave stepped into the limelight as a charismatic performer in a Hawaiian shirt, delivering a Sunset Lounge style show.
The blues man’s harmonica remained but it was paired with beatboxing, tin can percussion, prop dollars, instruments for people on the front row, a conga line and a giant inflatable banana for the crowd at large!
All this combined with energy, idiosyncrasy and blues-infused dance covers, including Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.
Once the crowd came to expect the unexpected, he’d won them over completely. Sample comment as the strains of a blues-techno version of Black Betty faded: “if we ever get married, *this* guy…he’s going to make Beans on Toast look shit!”
“Welcome to the Beans on Toast variety show”
No need to worry about Beans on Toast being upstaged. Jay McAllister is a consummate performer who curated the night and drew the crowd, so he strolled on and had them singing in unison right from the first chords of 2016.
The politically aware bangers kept coming – The War on War, Money For War and The Chicken Song, among others – all wrapped in an insistent, gruff voice coloured with passion.
It goes without saying that we all wish Nanny Mac was our nan, if only to have surreptitious pocket money given with love and the line “get yourself something luck with that.”
You could do worse than being friends with Nanny Mac’s grandson if you’re a musician. McAllister was no Scrooge with the spotlight at this Christmas party. As well as featuring longtime collaborator Bobby Banjo, he made time for a modern barbershop trio, The Bellmen.
It wasn’t simply a case of a few extra backing musicians for a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows. Tensheds’ Matt Millership and Americana singer songwriter Sky Smeed each performed a solo song within the Beans on Toast set. Millership impressed as a keyboard virtuoso and Smeed delighted old and new fans alike with his country-tinged song Bumper Sticker.
Beans on Toast returned for more delicious play on words performances, fuelled by an outlaw aesthetic and a belief that everything would be better if we all got together and loved a little more.
So, for all the husky political disdain, it was the moments of romance that stood out; from We Made It To The Waterfall, to the story of two fans who had each secretly contacted Jay before a recent show to request that I’m Home When You Hold Me be dedicated to the other. Lovely!
“This is some workout!”
The love and laughter kept on coming as most of Skinny Lister piled in to join Jay for a rare performance of their festive duet, This Christmas.
The pared down band delivered a short but characteristically boisterous set, heavy on the sea shanties. Even though it wasn’t a headlining show, there was no shortage of fans ready to shout along to John Kanaka, Rollin’ Over, South Australia and everything else Skinny Lister could pack in ’til midnight.
The thirty minute whirlwind set gave just a little taste of the onslaught that unsuspecting Dropkick Murphys fans will experience during their European tour in January and February 2017 (dates here, including London on January 27).
Freear stormed on to the stage, past Skinny Lister’s long-suffering suitcase stomp box, for an in-your-face MC set. This marked a complete change in musical style but the same level of energy, wit and presence.
The music continued long into the night. Unfortunately, Southern Rail decided not to, so I left the showcase in full swing to go chasing night buses. This is London!
Like what you see? There are many more photos of the show over on Flickr. Please follow me there, and here:
Want more photos? Try my travel, nature and street photography website, Out To The Streets!