Skinny Lister & Beans On Toast, O2 Ritz, Manchester (22nd November 2017)

Throughout history there has been many musical dynamic duos – Sonny & Cher, Simon & Garfunkel, The White Stripes and The Ting Tings. Add to that list, Skinny Lister and Beans On Toast, as they joined forces for the ‘Double Trouble’ UK tour.

A match made in music heaven as on the one hand, you have the self-confessed ‘drunken folk singer’ – Beans On Toast, whose songwriting is based around putting political and social taboos under the microscope, drugs, love, politics and society values are all laid bare with his delightfully candid lyrics that send a message that’s peppered with optimism.

On the other hand, you have the shanty punk rockin’ sextet, Skinny Lister whose tales of drunken shenanigans at home and away blended with raw, folksy melodies and high energy sing a longs are the perfect combination for a night on the town. Both acts share a lot of similarities –  not the least that they are label mates on the independent label, Xtra Mile Recordings.

Beans On Toast

First up, we have Beans On Toast or Jay McAllister for those wondering, he makes a very unassuming entrance as he gives a quick wave to the crowd with one hand and carries a couple of beers in the other. For those who haven’t experienced a Beans gig, it’s best described as being creatively chaotic as from the first note to the last, there was a a relaxed vibe towards the set list that could change at any suggestion from the crowd.

Songs such as ‘I’m Home When You Hold Me’, ‘Whole Lotta Lovin’ and most recently released ‘Jamie & Lily’ show the simplistic but lovely way he views the world, whether it’s looking at the woman he loves, a society needing more lovin’ and less fighting or immortalising two fans who found love with each other but also, a mutual love of Beans and his bag of tunes.

Beans endearing charm comes from the fact he treats his audience like they are all regulars at his local pub, chit chat between songs has the audience captivated as he tells tales from his travels such as his light bulb moment when he managed to fit the German word for chicken (Hähnchen) into ‘The Chicken Song’ and when he sheepishly introduced himself to a Nashville audience by opening with ‘Fuck you, Nashville’ and amazingly – lived to tell the tale.

More new songs from his latest release ‘Cushty’ were given an airing with pub piano lead ‘Taylor Swift’ and an upbeat folksy tune ‘Unlikely Gymnast’ the former stemming from a conversation in his local pub about who he’d love to have a drink with and the latter an attempt at “making gymnastics sexy again”, your muse can come at any moment it seems.

As his set winds down with his most notorious songs ‘The War on War’ and ‘MDMAmazing’ it’s clear that he’s held everyone’s attention through his optimistic outlook on life and his endearing humility, as his fond tales of memories gone by are so relatable to a gig going audience, he departs the stage in the same manner he entered it, with a wave from one hand and a beer in the other.

Skinny Lister

There was a high anticipation from the crowd as a packaged sound of some of the bands most notorious songs plays over the PA and the band take to the stage in emphatic fashion with the half war cry and half football chant ‘Beat It From The Chest’.

The band’s fervour is unwavering as they dance their way across the stage, Lorna swigging from the fabled flaggon of rum and Maxwell’s accordion ringing around the room and the crowd with them every step of the way. Each song delivers a high octane blast of folk infused punk with ‘George’s Glass’, ‘Geordie Lad’ and ‘Gaff Don’t Let Us Down’ keeping the crowd jigging away at a frantic pace.

‘Tragedy In A Minor’ has the crowd singing a long with the do’s and bobbing their heads relentlessly and the delightfully folksy tune, ‘Cathy’ has everyone in the venue singing a long with it’s catchy chorus.

The band take a moment to soak in the sights as they make it known that the show is particularly special as it’s the biggest venue they’ve played outside of London, the place a lot of their song inspiration comes from. A feature of the venue is its “bouncy” dancefloor that’s put to the test by boot stomping songs such as ‘Trouble On Oxford Street’, ‘Rollin Over’ and ‘This Is War’ making the venue feel like it was experiencing a very small but very real earthquake.

There are a lot of sing a long songs in the bands arsenal but the loudest and most unified sing a long comes from the sea shanty ‘John Kanaka’ that is heard at vocal shattering volumes with everyone screaming ‘TOO RYE AY!’ and stomping their feet, making the temperature and energy levels reach their maximum. Maybe.

Lorna is usually in charge of distributing the infamous Forge the Flagon filled with rum across the room but due to health and safety reasons, it’s replaced by a less appealing plastic bottle which brings a gentle boo or two from the crowd. Flagon distributing a side, Lorna shows her vocal chops as she’s placed at the forefront of new song ‘Architecture’ a rock n roll vibe that leans more on electric rather than the acoustic sounds the band are known for. As well as this, her vocal performance on the delicate ‘Bonny Away’ has the crowd enchanted with her gentle voice soaring throughout the venue.

We may just be on the cusp of the Christmas festivities but that didn’t stop the band from introducing their new single ‘Christmas Calls’ and bringing Beans On Toast back on stage for the encore to sing their Christmas jingle ‘This Christmas’, slightly shambolic in organisation but all is forgiven thanks to the entertainment value of watching both fumble through the song.

The band ends the night with ‘Six Whiskies’ which is the quintessential Skinny Lister song, the crowd sway a long to this drunken tale of adventure in a foreign land sending everyone home feeling a little bit tipsy.

The ‘Double Trouble’ billing for this show lived up to it’s name as cheeky chappy, Beans On Toast did a great job of kicking things off with his off beat brand of folk story telling and Skinny Lister offered the crowd a chance to exude as much energy as possible while releasing their energy into sing a long shanties that will long live in the memory of everyone in attendance.

Beans On Toast’s new album ‘Cushty’ is available from 1st December via Xtra Mile Recordings

Skinny Lister’s deluxe edition of ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’ is available now via Xtra Mile Recordings