It’s about time guitar music had a new face, and oh boy what a pretty one it is.
Fresh on the music scene, Nottingham born Jake Bugg shot to stardom as his first solo album went straight to the top of the charts knocking Mumford and Sons from the top spot back in October 2012. First hearing ‘Two Fingers’ played on Fearne Cotton’s Radio 1 show last year I immediately made note to tell my younger sister – an avid music fan – that she MUST download this track. Only to be told I was already behind the times and that he was the newest up and coming act to watch out for. There wasn’t much watching to be done as he was in my face faster than a lightning bolt (awful metaphor but it had to be done, forgive me please).
After being unsuccessful in finding tickets for any of the Bugg tour dates I was very lucky that a young fellow helped a friend in need; I felt like Cinderella finally getting to go to the ball. And so came March 29th and so to the ball we went.
The York Barbican was a very interesting choice of venue for the gig, what seemed to be a kind of theatre transformed itself into a weird music hall. Support act Misty Miller kept the crowd reasonably entertained for half an hour with her hormonal fueled songs and foot tapping beats. Her voice was good, she played her own guitar and she seemed to have some idea of what she was doing on stage, but after the third song about a boy she started to sound very similar to Taylor Swift. The other feeling I had while watching her was that she really needed to up her stage artier; jeans and a baggy check shirt do not scream ‘indie queen’. She looked like she was there for band practice rather than to give a rock and roll performance; even a fitted shirt would have been better than nothing.
Anyway, back to Bugg.
Opening his set with the last song on his current album, ‘Fire’ I realised this wasn’t going to be the ‘crazy, jump-around’ gig I had kind of hoped for. However as soon as the chorus kicked in I didn’t care. Sounding just as good live – if not better – than he does on tape, Jake Bugg wowed us all. Jumping from track to track, with no flashy stage show and quick transitions between guitar changes I got lost in the music; at one point even forgetting I was watching him in York Barbican and not in the NME tent as Leeds.
As he started to near the end of his gig and play his most recent releases, ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Lightening Bolt’ I suddenly started to panic that he hadn’t played my favorite track from the album, and question whether he was going to do an encore considering his most popular ones were being played. The stage lights went down and we were left in darkness, he couldn’t not do my favorite one, ‘he only has one album’, ‘he must come back out and do it’ I kept telling myself. Low and behold, after a few minutes of crowd chanting, the lights came back up and Bugg entered back onto the stage to, you’ve guessed it, play my favorite track, ‘Broken’.
For his finale song Bugg did something I’ve never seen done before; he finished his set with a cover, and it worked quite well – but I feel this could only be because I knew the cover. I imagine it would be quite a letdown if you weren’t familiar with the song. On hearing his music and listening to the way he sings, it is plain to see that Johnny Cash is a big influence on Bugg and as soon as the opening chords of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ kicked in I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. Now all I want is for Bugg to release an album solely dedicated to Johnny Cash covers.
This guy is already the one not to be missed, but I must insist that if you ever get the chance to see him, GO. Buy his album, get his EPs, but don’t miss out on the refreshing sound of rock and roll.