Jay McAllister, self-professed “drunk folk singer”, takes to the Leadmill’s packed out Steel Stage on his annual UK tour promoting his new album, Spanner In The Works.
Despite becoming a name on the festival scene in 2005, his debut album Standing on a Chair was released on December 1st 2009, on his birthday. Since then he’s always released an album on that day. The alt-folk singer’s albums have been produced by some of the genre’s biggest names such as Mumford and Sons and Frank Turner, however he still has a chilled out, low key vibe.
He’s greeted on stage by a warm round of applause. It’s like seeing an old friend for the first time in months. Opening with ‘2016’, a satirical ode to the sombre mood of the country this year, he pokes fun at Brexit, celebrity deaths, terror attacks and the new Prime Minister.He stands up for liberal values and a fairer society. Reflecting on this, he says “it wasn’t the cheeriest of songs but it’s got to be said.”
This theme continues from the get-go. His song “Robin Hood Costume” attacks the growing class divide and the greediness of bankers. Telling a humorous anecdote about stealing all the money from the banks to feed the homeless and help the poor, he throws the crowd into a chorus of anti-establishment chants.
Not all his songs are politically driven. ‘I’m Home When You Hold Me’ is a beautiful song that he dedicated to his wife Lizzy Bee that changes the politically charged atmosphere and chills the crowd out, lighters in the air, arm in arm and singing together.
This doesn’t last long. When he plays his best-known song ‘M.D.M Amazing’ the crowd sings along to every word. It really does feel like you’re back at a festival, sat around a campfire with your mates and a guitar at 5am. In the middle of the song he stops singing and offers the crowd a choice of two stories from previous gigs. Beans tells us how a girl at a gig in Manchester came and told him her ex-boyfriend claimed he had written the song and it was about her, and how it turned into a full-blown relationship. When a friend told her the songs were by Beans on Toast, she went to see him, and Beans called the guy and left him a voicemail calling him out on originality. The story and how he tells it is hilarious and has the crowd in stitches.
The gig is so much fun from start to finish, and feels more like you’re down the pub with some old mates having a drink and a laugh. With songs about censorship, porn, drugs and the corruption of the government and big corporations, Beans gets straight to the point, he doesn’t hold back and that raw brutal honesty is what makes him so loveable and different from other artists.