There’s a lot to be said for meticulous presentation, rehearsal, and performance. It conveys the whole package, yet the audience always knows that it is, for better or worse, an act. A scripted, predestined journey that would happen irrespective of the place, the time, or the predilections of the audience. It’s not inherently a bad thing, but Beans On Toast at the Exeter Phoenix has shown an alternative to this standard: a show of personal, conversational performance that carries no pretense.
Having built an impressive catalogue out of six albums, including the recently released The Grand Scheme Of Things, Beans On Toast has no difficulty building a strong set. There was a real sense of enjoyment as he told anecdotes relating to his songs, as if we were all really just friends catching up. By discarding the traditional ordered setlist and allowing the audience to choose songs, there was a great sense of community and freedom in the show. Beans On Toast’s style never progressed in such a way that it would be jarring to skip around albums, so to make use of that, and to flexibly recognise the wants of the audience, means more credit to him.
The performance was musically strong, built around the banjo, harmonica, and guitar - stripped back, loose, but proficient. Lori Campbell, a BBC Introducing endorsed artist, lent support and vocals to the performance, accompanying Beans On Toast brilliantly and advertising herself as a probable headliner for the Phoenix in the near future.
In an era where touring is a boring necessity for artists, and where meeting fans is just an opportunity for finance, Beans On Toast is a standout artist for his enthusiasm, dedication, and personability. Like always, he is reliably good, and a sure investment for a good gig wherever, whenever.