With an unpretentious and often hilarious musings on sex, drugs and left wing politics, Getintothis’ Shaun Ponsonby finds the Essex-born troubadour leaves the Kaz smiling for the last time.
Beans on Toast opens his final Kazimier appearance with a little speech about two elephants in the room. Firstly, the closure of “this wonderful, 80s roller disco venue”, and secondly – and more importantly – the recent atrocities in Paris. “We’re not going to pretend like nothing has happened”, he promises, but we are going to soldier on. If there is one man who can strike that balance, its Beans. He also pleads with us not to allow others to push a right-wing agenda on the back of what has happened.
This latter point is underlined when he picks up his battered old guitar and opens with A Whole Lotta Lovin’, with choice lines including “It’s in these times of trouble where fascism rears its head/And the UK Independence Party are just the BNP in a different dress/They’re still the same old homophobic racists as before/They’re probably sending junk mail of hate to your front door”.
It’s hard not to think of the bullshit we’ve seen posted on social media over the last few days with lines such as these, but the positivity shines through when the chorus kicks in; “I wish everybody would just chill the fuck out and get busy being happy”.
And he didn’t leave it there. Songs like The War on War – in which he lists better “wars” than the ones we are currently fighting (he suggests wars on politicians, misunderstandings and war itself), before resigning “how about we don’t have a bloody war” – and God is a Cartoonist (“it’s sad that’s still so relevant”, he says afterwards) were aired during the night and struck a chord with the feeling of the moment.
But that’s not to say that this was necessarily a theme for the night. Mixed up along the politics were celebrations of music (such as the earnest shout along Old Grunge), drugs (his tongue in cheek giving up cocaine anthem Charlie, a faux reggae song no less) and life.
He’s also developed into quite the raconteur, and a number of songs featured often hilarious stories about his travels, including being invited to the African equivalent of Burning Man, and musings on what war would be like if everyone was on drugs.
A Bit More Track In The Monitor from his as yet unreleased new record Rolling Up The Hill calls out the growing trend of crappy indie bands relying on backing tracks. On this, as on most of the new tracks, opening act Truckstop Honeymoon join him as they do on the record.
Earlier in the night, the husband and wife from New Orleans delivered a fine set that basically sounded like a southern US Beans on Toast, except with a bit more going on musically. Their harmonies were spot on, and they peppered the set with stories and self-deprecating humour, which immediately endeared them to a gang of northern Britons.
The tributes to the venue were a nice touch. Although he didn’t want to come across as a spokesman, Beans did speak occasionally of the Kazimier’s closure, and dedicated Sold Out Shows to it. Sold Out Shows decries dull corporate venues owned by large corporations and celebrates small places with character like the Kaz.
It’s hard not to love the guy. He is earnest, funny and is completely unpretentious. Yet he offers no answers (Things says “I don’t know what fracking is, but it sounds really bad”), because – let’s face it – he, like the rest of us, doesn’t really know what’s going on. Despite highlighting so many of the world’s problems throughout the set, he still made us all leave the venue with a smile on our face. He’s not one of these dull singer-songwriters who cries about his/her broken heart on his acoustic guitar or demands to be seen as an artiste.
He may boil things down to their simplest form, but the affirmation of how great life could be gives you a dash of hope.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Martin Waters