When I was 18, I divided my time fairly evenly between being an awkward bastard, revising for my A-levels, and thinking that being able to legally drink alcohol was absolutely mental. This is why, when Jake Bugg stood before me performing a perfect rendition of his hit ‘Two Fingers’ just two songs into his set, despite only just being able to legally buy a pack of fags, I stood there thinking to myself ‘you need to sort it out Dan, first Bieber, now this. That ground breaking concept album that you definitely could make if you wanted to isn’t going to write itself’. But then something happened; I just couldn’t get the word ‘overrated’ out of my mind.
First on stage was ‘Mumford Without His Sons’, or Tom Odell as the solo artist usually likes to be known. His set passed by harmlessly, with large-scale songs that fell somewhere between Stornoway and Coldplay, with Odell even clanking his piano keys like a young Chris Martin; good, if forgettable, stuff. Despite the fact he claimed he was a solo artist, it really did seem that his band were an essential part of his act, and perhaps deserved more credit.
Next was Findlay, who were great. The audience were captivated from the offset with the band’s pitch perfect vocals and blend of fast tunes reminiscent of The Black Keys, with slower Amy Winehouse-esque (yeah, I said it) numbers. Despite the instrumentation being undeniably stellar throughout, it was the vocals and stage presence of the band’s female lead singer that impressed me the most. There is no way, that the impressive aesthetic attributes of said lead singer have influenced the positivity of this review at all, no way at all.
So this brings us back to the main act. Jack Bugg’s entrance was effortlessly nonchalant to say the least and as he coolly sauntered on and grumbled something into the microphone it was disappointing to see that the rude crowd continued to let out a low distracting grumble as he began to play. But it was when he began to play that he got everyone’s’ attention. His unique, Miles Turner (Miles Kane and Alex Turner, (trademark Dan Flynn)) voice was startlingly engaging and his meek, static performing presence only added to the allure. It was the best gig ever, for two songs.
Now before it seems like I’m just being controversial and calling him boring, let me restate the age-old mantra that taste in music is subjective; and this gig was subjectively a little bit boring. The acoustic songs that comprised the middle of the gig reminded me of ready salted crisps; fine and impossible to criticise, but bland and shit when you’ve got a pack of Thai Sweet Chilli in your hand (the good songs are Thai Sweet Chilli, by the way). Many songs lacked a necessary individuality that would have prevented them from blending into each other. Unfortunately it often seemed more like I was watching Jake Blunt than Jake Bugg.
Other highlights came in the form of ‘Taste It’ and ‘Seen It All’, both of which held the high level of energy and catchy witticisms found in the instrumentation and lyrics of “Lightning Bolt’; unfortunately such rays of light just made one question the dull fog that surrounded them.
Jake Bugg is clearly a very talented person; no 18 year old who can write such insightful lyrics and sing like with a voice that suggests world-weariness well beyond his years could possibly be called anything else. I just feel that as time progresses, so will Bugg; as he learns how to write songs that consistently hit the heights that he only reached with the opening and closing two songs, his gigs will improve too. The gig was like a sandwich with really, really good bread but just cheese in the middle; it needed more bacon and other meats.