Review and Images by Jonathan Taylor
After the recent release of his new single ‘Kiss Like The Sun’ and the anticipation of studio album number five rumoured to be released later this year, Nottingham born singer/songwriter Jake Bugg heads out on the road to embark on a 9 date regional UK tour.
Tonight’s stop is the Mountford Hall in Liverpool. Given the fact it is a Friday night in the Guild of Students Union, the predominantly youthful crowd are inevitably in fine spirits and a good few drinks into their evening. As a result the atmosphere in the hall is a joyous one and the chats for Jake Bugg to the melody of KC and the Sunshine Band’s ‘Give It Up’ start early doors.
As the lights dim, the crowd erupts as the red lights on the stage throb in time to the dance beat of ‘Be Someone’, a collaboration between Jake Bugg and dance production duo Camelphat. As the track draws to a close and fades from the speakers, the applause continues as Jake Bugg and his backing band take to the stage. The set opens with new track ‘Rabbit Hole’ which is followed by fan favourite ‘Trouble Town’ which has the crowd bouncing and singing every word back to the stage.
New single ‘Kiss Like The Sun’ gets an airing. It’s blues inspired, fuzzy guitar sound builds slowly and breaks to make way for a wonderfully melodic dream like chorus. The set continues with the big hitters off Jake Bugg’s self-titled debut album, with the gritty story telling of ‘Ballard Of Mr Jones’, a stunning rendition of ‘Slide’ and ‘Simple As This’. ‘Me And You’, ‘Messed Up Kids’ and hit single ‘A Song About Love’ from second album ‘Shangri La’ continue the evening as does a healthy inclusion of new material which sound perfectly at home along with the back catalogue of classics and gives fans a glimpse of what they have to look forward to in terms of the new album.
The opening guitar riff of ‘Lightning Bolt’ gets a huge response from the crowd and sees half-filled plastic pint glasses launched and pockets of the crowd bouncing in all directions. Jake Bugg’s band then leaves the stage and we are treated to a stripped back acoustic version of ‘Broken’. It is without question one of the evening highlights and demonstrates perfectly Jake Bugg’s vocal ability and the unique folk like quality he has to his voice. As the chorus builds the whole of the hall with arms aloft sing every word back to the lone figure on the stage, who is clearly moved by the scenes that play out in front of him.
The evening resumes with the upbeat guitar driven ‘Taste it’, ‘Slumville Sunrise’ and new tracks ‘Scene’ and ‘Habits’. The set is brought to a close with debut album classics ‘Seen It All’ and ‘Two Fingers’ after which Bugg thanks the crowd one final time and he leaves the stage to a well-deserved display of affection and applause.
Jake Bugg’s performance tonight was delivered with authority and conviction. The unique tone to his voice backed by music that is clearly influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, Art Garfunkel and Johnny Cash which are perhaps unlikely influences for someone of his generation, bring something unique to the current musical climate. With a new studio album on the horizon and an established back catalogue of creative folk based ballads to draw upon and judging by the reaction from his audience tonight, Jake Bugg needs to continue with his winning formula of sound that is now familiar and very much his own.