With a number one debut album to his name, Jake Bugg‘s success has been quite something to behold, especially as it has come at a time in his life when a boy of his age should be outside kicking a ball around: he’s still only nineteen years old.
His Dylan-and-Simon-and-Garfunkel-tinged debut album earned him plaudits and support slots with The Stone Roses and Noel Gallagher. He is also attracting plenty of newspaper attention, from The Times‘ Best Dressed Men (3rd to Obama and Mourinho)…
Bugg has also been hitting the headlines recently as a headline and controversy starved media desperately seek to sell newspapers – something which can apparently be achieved easily if you have a story about One Direction. Enter Bugg with the comment that “They must know they’re rubbish”.
As one, the nation’s newspaper editors all looked skywards in gratitude to the Headline Gods, and a couple of weeks of tittle tattle was created.
Thus after One Direction won “Worst Band” at the NME awards Bugg was asked by headline-seeking hacks for his opinion, to whom he served up the juicy quote “I don’t know how they can really be considered a band though to be honest”.
This led to another few million column inches including Paul Morley‘s brilliantly contrarian opinion that Harry Styles was the more honest representation of Modern Britain, with Bugg representing a time and view of life that no longer exists. This may have a ring of truth to it, but the argument that this makes Harry Styles the more interesting character is less convincing. I am no more interested in Mr Styles than I am crop rotation in the 18th century. I do want to hear Jake Bugg’s next record however.
In case you haven’t come across Jake Bugg before, here’s a quick summary:
- Born in Nottingham.
- Signed record contract after Bugg appeared on the BBC “Introducing” stage at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival aged 17.
- Further break came when “Country Song” was used on a TV advert for Greene King IPA. It’s a better song than the previous effort by Greene King which featured a male voice choir singing “For a pint of Greene King IPA”…
- Released eponymous debut solo album last year which went to number one.
- Er, that’s it. He’s only nineteen: what more do you want?
All of which brings us to last night’s live show at Southend’s Cliff’s Pavillion.
The first thing that strikes you when you see Jake Bugg live is that he reminds you of a sulky teenager (because he is one) in his Adidas trainers and Fred Perry shirt – but then he opens his mouth and out comes the most amazing voice. This is a voice that cuts through all the nonsense in the newspapers and leads you to ask “How does someone that young get to be so good?”
Jake Bugg has some good tunes, (which he co-wrote with “a friend” who happened to also write Snow Patrol’s “Run”) but most of all he has a great voice. This is not apparent when he speaks – he looks and sounds like just about any other teenager / nineteen year old (good grief I sound old). “Good evening Southend” and “Thank you for coming tonight” is about as much conversation as we get, all delivered in a thick Nottingham accent.
But Bugg is all about The Voice. He sounds even better than on his record (which he plays in full) – which is some feat. On tunes like “Seen It All” the audience warm up and start to clap along. During quieter songs such as “Slide” Bugg has to contend against the hum of the room, but during songs like “Country Song”, all you can hear is this remarkable voice and Bugg’s guitar.
During “Lightning Bolt” Bugg throws off a decent guitar solo with the same bored look he might give whilst playing FIFA on his PS3, but by then we know that it’s not that he doesn’t care, he’s just being nineteen. I didn’t want to see another Harry Styles cavorting around – so that’s fine with me. There’s a touch of a Liam Gallagher stare in the somewhere – but (sshhh) Bugg’s a better singer.
The set ends first with three barnstorming tracks: “Two Fingers”, “Taste It” and “Lightning Bolt”.
Then for an encore we hear an achingly pretty “Broken” – just Bugg, his guitar and his voice – and then a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison” brings the house to its feet. I don’t think Bugg “Shot a man in Reno / just to watch him die”, though. I think that’s him just being nineteen….
Record #171: Jake Bugg – Lightning Bolt