Jake Bugg Live @ Newcastle O2 Academy


The Star Inn, an hour before Jake Bugg is to take the stage at Newcastle’s 02 Academy, is filling up with mods complete in their Parka’s and Weller haircuts. It’s clear that fans of Oasis and Arctic Monkeys like are here to see their new hero. Step forward Jake Bugg.

The Clifton born country-folk singer emerged with his acoustic guitar and kicked off with his album closer Fire, followed by Kentucky, a sound that seems more at home in a music bar in Virginia than a cold night in Newcastle.

Flanked either side by a drummer and bass player, Bugg clearly took centre stage as he ran through a set of melodic songs. The opening chords of urban-bluesy sounding Trouble Town seemed to generate some dancing from the audience, while the catchy Seen It All followed but the singing of the crowd all but drowned him out.

Bugg’s voice is almost transported from a 60’s vinyl record, but he captures the feeling of being young in 2013, as backed by the social commentary in songs such as Trouble Town (“stuck in speed bump city where the only thing that’s pretty is the thought of getting out”) and Two Fingers (“skin up a fat one, hide from the feds.”)

Bugg shares a quiet confidence, hates fame, and has spoken out about rallying against manufactured chart pop. But it’s his song writing talent far beyond his age that has gained plenty of attention.

He doesn’t interact too much with the audience but the delivery of his songs is compelling. A highlight of the set was the solo acoustic Country Song, a heartfelt ballad that captured the emotions of the crowd as they sang along to every word.

The single Two Fingers, an insight into his life growing up in Nottingham, was the biggest hit of the night among the sell-out crowd, particularly the Oasis-style belter of a chorus, which was passionately sang by the camera phone-wielding onlookers.

Bugg turned into electric guitar hero to close the set with the fast paced rock ‘n’ roll grandeur of Taste It and Lightning Bolt, the latter being one of the most well received songs of the night by the audience, a real rockabilly closer, and a riff that would not sound out of place in Paul Weller’s catalogue.

Kicking off his encore with Broken, Bugg played the song quite intimately with the lights dimmed, just one man and his guitar captivating the audience. The build up of the rousing chorus to its climax of  “woah” was emphatically belted out by the crowd.

Bugg’s sound has been likened to that of Bob Dylan, but he chose to end the gig with a cover of another of his heroes – Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues.

When Bugg left the stage he got one hell of an ovation. And fully deserved too. Heir to the rock ‘n’ roll lineage currently occupied by The Stone Roses, Noel Gallagher and Arctic Monkeys, he’s got the challenge of the second album looming on the horizon. You do feel, however, this lad will only get better.


Connor Mullins