This is Jake Bugg, but not at you know him. Bugg visits an all-seated De Montfort Hall in Leicester, at the start of his solo acoustic tour and off the back of releasing his fourth album. It has been five years since his double-platinum winning, chart topping, self-titled debut.
So where has Bugg been? Gone are the rough-edges and tales of a misspent youth growing up on a Nottingham council estate, and in comes a stripped-back acoustic country singer who draws comparisons to artists such as Glen Campbell.
The shift in Bugg’s disposition is evident from the onset of the show, with only a black curtain and a single spotlight providing his stage. Bugg dives straight into his set with openers ‘Hearts That Strain’ and ‘How Soon the Dawn’, the well-received soft vocals and catchy acoustic riffs reverberating out around the concert hall. Following up with the buoyant acoustic melodies on ‘Strange Creatures’, released just after his second album, reminds us that the country influence on Bugg’s music is deeper-rooted than his latest album led us to believe.
The mellow atmosphere switches into an ardent sing-along when he performs the first numbers from his debut album, ‘Slide’ and ‘Simple as This’. High tempo renditions of ‘Trouble Town’ and ‘Slumville Sunrise’ shortly follow, drawing sections of the crowd to their feet and mimicking gigs of early-Bugg. He throws a couple of covers into the diverse mix, with both ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues’ alluding to his time spent working in Nashville with legendary drummer Gene Chrisman.
Finishing up his twenty-one-song set, Bugg plucks tunes from his new album including the lugubrious ‘In the Event of My Demise’, its melancholy augmented with delicate guitar interludes full of self-reflection. In complete juxtaposition, he wraps up the set with his debut-album hits ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’, taking the crowd back to the days of bopping along to his raw sound. Before his final song, an audience member shouts “We miss you at home Jake” to which Bugg responds “I’m right here”. He may not be recognisable as the same artist that fulfilled our indie cravings five years ago, but it is clear that the raw talent, unique sound and an artist that is not afraid to stray from the popular norms remains completely.
(Photo : Jesse Lirola)