Carrying on an annual tradition that began in 2009, 1st December (2018) meant it was release day for Bean’s On Toast‘s (Jay McAllister) new album titled A Bird In The Hand. This year the album release show was to be in Nuneaton and then after a more local Rough Trade show was announced for the same day, I had the unintended but welcomed occurrence of attending two gigs in one day.
Firstly, Rough Trade Nottingham. This was a short acoustic set with the new album being played in full. This was the first time that most people would have heard most of these songs, with the album only having been released for 15 hours but all seemed to go down well nevertheless. Songs were centred around his experience during his first year of being a father to daughter born in January 2018. To avoid it becoming a concept album, songs such as Alexa and Bamboo Toothbrush also feature, which are more consistent with themes of society and the environment from previous albums. Along with Jay’s performance of his new songs, the audience repaid him with a Happy Birthday rendition! The relaxed of the gig meant Jay was able to share many stories throughout such as about the recording process of the album at Church Studios in London with producer Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons).
With the gig being live streamed and recorded, there was little need for anyone to record their own videos which meant for a gig where most were engaged and connected to the music. Despite it being a mid-afternoon, small and quiet gig, there was still a discouraging amount of talking. Before leaving for his train to Nuneaton, there was still time for him to sign everyone’s albums.
As all previous album release gigs had been based in London, Jay decided that the fairest place to hold this year’s launch would be as close to the centre of England as possible. The result was a gig at Queen’s Hall in Nuneaton. Not the most typical location for an album launch but a great night regardless.
The first set of the night came from Benjamin Folke Thomas, an alt-country singer based in London with his fourth album Modern Man being released under a month ago. A talented guitarist paired with songs about the prospect of marriage and getting older amongst other subjects made for a great start to the night. Second support came from Jess Morgan, a modern folk singer-songwriter. Both of these artists made up half of Bean’s on Toast’s band later in the night.
Beans on Toast now with band, made up of Benjamin Folke Thomas, Jess Morgan, Dave Danger and Matt Millership (Tensheds), took to stage to finish off the night. As with earlier in the day, the new album obviously took a main position in the set list but with older songs such as Major Oak, Afternoon in the Sunshine and M.D.M.Amazing. Beer and a Burger was also a particularly appropriate song for the evening with the main line of the chorus being ‘This is Middle England baby’. Unfortunately, the same amount of talking was also present at this gig which only increased throughout the night but this fortunately didn’t take too much away from the music.
With some songs performed solo, some with full band and others with individuals from the band, the variety and excitement of the night made for a great album launch gig. Breaking away from the expected typical London-based album release gigs clearly paid off and made for an interesting night.
Words by Ethan McKenna