Jake Bugg at Southampton Guildhall on Tuesday 26th February by Jack Bezants
Jake Bugg, the self-touted antidote to X-Factor’s manufactured pop production line, rolled into the Southampton Guildhall on Tuesday night having whipped up another controversy by taking a swipe at One Direction, claiming “they must know they’re terrible.”
And when Bugg took to the stage last night, it didn’t take long to realise that he is someone who knows he is rather good.
Hooking his guitar strap around his shoulders as cries from Robert Johnson’s ‘Crossroad Blues’ (Bugg’s entrance music) reached its climax, the 18-year-old reeled off ‘Fire’, ‘Kentucky’ and ‘Love Me the Way You Do’ nonchalantly before upping the gears with ‘Trouble Town‘. He stood menacingly over his drummer as he strummed the intro fiercely, gaining extra impetus from the beat and rapture from his fans as he prowled back over towards his microphone.
Bugg’s voice was imperious, too. It sounded wizened beyond its years, roughened by cigarettes and sometimes creased with an experience of pain that, judging by his boyish exterior, he should not yet understand.
There was no greater example than with the majestic ‘Slide’, which saw Bugg move away from the bassist and drummer he had been guiding through the set and lean only on his acoustic guitar for assistance.
Bugg unleashes a nostalgic lyric such as “I’ve been thinking about the way the world turns/And my stomach churns/As it hits me out of the sky” in such a vitriolic crescendo that he instantly commands all attention as his voice hushes for the next line. But the folk/indie-rock troubadour does not only wear his heart on his sleeve in a yearning manner; he has a rebellious streak that flares off as loudly as any sentimentality in his music.
Lyrics remembering when he would “skin up a fat one/and hide from the feds” gain the biggest reception from a crowd that is predominantly made up of teenagers a similar age to Bugg although people from older generations, curious to see if the influences from Dylan, Donavon and Gene Pitman are positive, are not hard to spot.
And in fairness, those influences are positive. Bugg possesses an elfin-like stature when performing, which was illuminated as a silhouette of him hunched at his microphone fell upon the grand walls of the Guildhall.
It was a neat touch from Bugg to close with a tip-of-the-hat to Johnny Cash on what would have been his 81st birthday and cover ‘Folsom Prison Blues’.
But perhaps the most exciting thought for Bugg’s fans to take away from the gig was a new, as yet untitled track that he played midway through his set. A stomping guitar riff intertwined with a boisterous solo suggests that even though Bugg claims to have ‘Seen It All’, his talent will only grow further as he sees a little more.
Video: Jake Bugg performs ‘Lightning Bolt’ at Southampton Guildhall
Jake Bugg Setlist:
Love Me the Way You Do
Seen It All
Simple as This
New Song (Untitled)
Ballad of Mr Jones
Someone Told Me
Note to Self
Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)
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