As the crowds gathered outside the Queens Hall on the coldest night of the year, so far in Edinburgh, it became apparent that a much younger demographic are big fans of Jake Bugg.
Embarrassed teenagers out with their mums and dads, under 16s out boozing on a school night, if it wasn’t for the array of impressive guitars being set up on stage – you could be mistaken for thinking you were attending a One Direction gig.
Grumbles aside, as the throaty and somewhat tuneful support act settled up for the night, it was obvious from the anticipation in the air that the crowd were up for a good night.
When the young Jake Bugg, who is still only 23, arrived on stage – the rapturous welcome he received was staggering. Warming up the crowd with his first number, Hearts that Stain, it was clear that this young man from Nottingham has a more classic sound these days.
But as a group of lads, gathered on the balcony and started to dance like they were in the football terraces, there was no doubt that Bugg’s famous hits were the number one crowd pleasers. From Slumber Sunrise to the defiant Two Fingers and catchy Taste It, it became increasingly clear that the young musician is best known for his jaunty top ten tunes.
But hits aside, the new songs from On my One and Hearts That Strain are simply stunning, especially being played in a very acoustic chapel built in 1823. How Soon The Dawn is simply beautifully sung – even without Dan Auerbach, who plays with Bugg on the new album. But what is increasingly clear with this tour is that he has changed direction, musically.
Gone is the rockabilly tendencies of Bugg’s early work. He has clearly crafted a more classic and matured sound. Gone is the backing band and production and here to stay is a country-tinged anthems. But the crowd did not seem disappointed, as they danced, shouted and lapped up his impressive voice and guitar playing skills.
After several guitar changes, and as he crooned his way through a cover of Glen Campbell’s Witchita Lineman it could be argued that Bugg now cuts a world-weary figure, sighing his way through songs of regret as if he’s entered his twilight years – but his voice carries these tunes and it’s all part of the melodrama.
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The set closes with the 21st-century theme tune of Lightning Bolt. At this point, there was plenty of stomping from the young crowd, while parents could be seen dancing in the aisles of the upstairs seating arrangements – clearly showing gig-goers, both young and old, had a good night.
Bugg has an old head on young shoulders. What is mesmerising is that he is still attracting a young generation and introducing them to a whole new level of classic music reminiscent of the likes of Johnny Cash and Scott Walker. Bugg still has it.
The setlist for Queens Hall, Edinburgh …
Hearts That Strain
How Soon the Dawn
Simple as This
Me and You
Wichita Lineman – Cover version
There’s a Beast and We All Feed It
In the Event of My Demise
Seen It All