Jake Bugg at the Guildhall (26/02/2013)

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The opening act of the night was my GCSE art book in band-form. The duo from Dublin expressed a wide variety of fun and creative ideas, and were evidently having a great time in the process. Nothing has been perfected yet, however Hudson Taylor have an enormous amount of potential, particularly with their honorable harmonies. In fact, I think comparing them to my grade B artwork is a bit unfair. These guys are definitely something to listen out for in the near future.

Following on from Hudson Taylor, dressed very simply in a black dress and flat red shoes, was Valerie June. When she exploded into song her compelling voice grabbed my full attention in an instant, but as her singing continued, to the dismay of those around me (who preferred to use the word soulful), I couldn’t get whiny out of my mind. Despite beginning with a fairly appreciative crowd, as the number of similar-sounding songs increased, the number of fans engaged with her performance steadily decreased. With an obviously talented voice, it’s frustrating that Valerie Jane can’t come up with anything original.

The initial aspect of Jake Bugg’s performance surprised me. He spoke at least 7 words into the microphone after opening number ‘Fire’, followed by a glimpse of a smile. Quite contrary to his usual grunting. Following on from ‘Fire’ was my personal favourite ‘Kentucky’, where I think Jake sings at his best. His voice flows so naturally and effortlessly, that’s not to say he wasn’t putting any effort in, it’s clear that when Jake sings he sings right from his heart with all the emotion he can muster, but that when I closed my eyes and listened I was taken on a journey through his world calmly and clearly, which allowed me to forget my own troubles as I focused on the fact that Jake had no money.

Like most listeners, I’ve had my doubts about Jake’s lyrics. Their sophistication and his young age just don’t seem compatible. I’ve often wandered if the lyrics are an exaggeration of a trivial event, and whilst this could be true for ‘Love Me The Way You Do’ with the lyrics, ‘I hope someday you’ll be mine,I hope someday you’ll be by my side’, which could easily be about a girl he had a crush on in year 8, this theory is challenged when applied to songs such as ‘Seen It All’ which is about popping pills. When Bugg sang this song my doubts were of course diminished, as he provided the confirmation of how he really has seen it all through the pure emotion present on his face and heard in his voice.

‘2 Fingers’ and ‘Lightening Bolt’ were left to the end of the set, finally giving the audience what they came to hear. At this point the pizzazz within the all singing, all dancing audience rose so much that Jake had no choice but to stop his performance whilst the security men used their own lightening bolts (lasers) to reduce the energy levels and diminish more than one dispute.

Continuing his flawless performance, Bugg’s encore began with the halcyon, ‘Broken’, perfectly chosen to cool down the crowd with his soothing voice and gentle strumming. ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ (a cover of Johnny Cash) was the final tune of the night. Finishing a set with the impossible task of covering a Cash song is more than a challenge, but Jake pulled it off fabulously. Those who didn’t come in smiling, certainly left with a great big grin on their face; the cover was an admirable end to an awesome night.

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