There was a bit of a surprise at the start of Jake Bugg’s Brixton set last night. He actually had a chat with us. The normally taciturn young man appears to be growing in confidence and gave us a few introductory niceties at the start. He also said “Thank you virri mooch” in his Nottingham burr several times. Small things, but pleasant things.
There were four acoustic songs to start the evening, kicking off with ‘On My One’, a swift guitar change for ‘Strange Creatures’. These were followed by the deliciously melancholy ‘The Love We’re Hoping For’ and finally, the old favourite ‘Simple As This’. There are few gimmicks with Jake Bugg – he doesn’t try to impress with big screens or fancy sets. It’s a big old stage at Brixton, but even on his own he doesn’t look lost.
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Enter the full band and the fun really began. The crowd tended to respond best to material from the first eponymous album such as ‘Two Fingers’, ‘Seen It All’ (which had a long crescendo of guitar strumming in its intro) and ‘Trouble Town. At one point Jake said, ‘Thank you for listening to the new stuff,’ as if he realised where hearts lay. ‘Put Out The Fire’ from his most recent album fits in particularly well with these songs, skiffly as it is; there was quite a purple patch when this was followed by ‘King Pin’. Bugg’s voice was effortlessly strong and again, he doesn’t bother with tricks and huge octave ranges, just his distinctive tone and a bit of super speedy delivery on tracks like ‘There’s A Beast And We All Feed It’ (where he sounded a little like he’d been on the helium). There were a plethora of guitar changes and many indulgent guitar solos (said with a big grin and a mini fist pump from the observer) and the one at the end of ‘Never Wanna Dance’ gave this track a particular lift, as it was a bit wet on the album.
Bugg rattled through the set list at a fair whack, not rushing, just enjoying the momentum, and his two most epic tracks rounded off the night – ‘Broken’, where the Brixton ‘Whoas’ were in good voice, and ‘Lightning Bolt’. You can’t help but reflect what a lucky guy he was to have two wonderful songs like that on his first album to set up his career. There was no mucking about milking the applause for an encore. He was done. The Brixton crowd filtered out across the stickiest floor in London and went home, fulfilled.