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The Bakehouse Sessions with Frank and the Beans at The Penny Bun in Lowestoft was an absolute banger of a night





The last time I stepped into The Penny Bun Bakehouse on the South Lowestoft Industrial Estate for a gig was February 2022, that time it was to have my first taste of Little Red Kings.

This time round at the Harvest Court bakery it was to hear the Suffolk soul and funk sound of Frank and The Beans and, much like the previous ‘Bakehouse Session’ nearly two years before it, it would turn out to be an absolute banger.

First up, to tease me and around 100 people into the bakery space which normally housed prep tables and fridges, was DJ Phil Colby and his trunk of funk – he was spinning the wheels of steel to warm up the crowd for the amazing headline act.

He did a grand job to set up the night and steered the funk and soul train to its seven-piece destination with a great selection of tunes.

Then, with a feather and a joker playing card in his hat, singer Stevie Westwood took to the stage, joined by fellow vocalist Hannah Bales, guitarist Bryn Eden, bass player Kris Bales, Henry Platt on keys, saxophonist Josh Moore and drummer Rory Fitzgerald – these guys meant business and took no time at all to slam that train into overdrive.

With the band cracking into covers such as Al Green’s Take me to the River and Mr Pitiful from Otis Redding, the vocals of both Stevie and Hannah were electric, the band was pumping and the crowd was lapping up all they had musically to offer up.

The awesome Frank and the Beans. Pictures: Kev Hurst
The awesome Frank and the Beans. Pictures: Kev Hurst
This is the third Bakehouse Sessions at the Harvest Court Site in Lowestoft. Pictures: Kev Hurst
This is the third Bakehouse Sessions at the Harvest Court Site in Lowestoft. Pictures: Kev Hurst

Taking a breath after a few straight songs, Stevie said they would now go hard with the show and bursting into Eddie Floyd’s Knock on Wood, which continued to let the good times roll.

Fontella Bass’s track Rescue me was followed by crowd pleaser Tainted Love and in between those a conga line broke out and snaked in and out of the bakehouse – what other gig or venue does that happen in and where have you been where a cheer goes up from the crowd after the band announce warm cinnamon slices are now being served at the bar?

This just showed that my best friend of now a quarter of a century (we are old) and owner of The Penny Bun Bakehouse, John Spillings, knows how to host a truly special night and that anything can happen at the Bakehouse on session nights.

In between the music, I feel I also have to give a review to the incredibly tasty braised brisket, lightly spiced mayo, pickles, cucumber and fresh herb Vietnamese-style Banh Mi baguette I had (there was a braised hispi cabbage alternative as well).

John Spillings, left, with Craig Foulger prepping some of the amazing Vietnamese-style Banh Mi. Pictures: Kev Hurst
John Spillings, left, with Craig Foulger prepping some of the amazing Vietnamese-style Banh Mi. Pictures: Kev Hurst
The incredibly tasty braised brisket, lightly spiced mayo, pickles, cucumber and fresh herb Banh Mi. Pictures: Kev Hurst
The incredibly tasty braised brisket, lightly spiced mayo, pickles, cucumber and fresh herb Banh Mi. Pictures: Kev Hurst

The soft braised deep tasting meat was cut perfectly by the pickled vegetables and with the smooth cool spiced mayo it was just a complete triumph in every mouthful… anyway, back to the tunes.

Wilson Pickett’s version of Land of 1,000 Dances had the place jumping and Hard to Handle by Otis Redding - one of my favourite tracks of all time – just had me smiling both inside and out, with a very deep hearty ‘ooooh yeah’ coming from my soul.

But even though the one-and-a-half set had to come to a close, the band still kept coming with the hits – Express Yourself, Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours, and Aretha Franklin’s Think went out into the audience – before it was time to blow the roof off the place with one final song – a rendition of Proud Mary. Wow... just wow.

DJ Phil Colby with John Spillings at the end of a brilliant night. Pictures: Kev Hurst
DJ Phil Colby with John Spillings at the end of a brilliant night. Pictures: Kev Hurst
Around 100 people enjoyed great food, drink and music at the session. Pictures: Kev Hurst
Around 100 people enjoyed great food, drink and music at the session. Pictures: Kev Hurst

With DJ Colby then returning to the decks, reminding everyone that the soul and funk train had reached its final destination, that was the end of the night.

And what a night it was, truly a night like no other.