’His lyrical style is in the same ballpark as Alex Turner, Jarvis Cocker and Mike Skinner, reflecting back on the dangers and dullness of an urban upbringing.’
In today’s music industry, where the talentless can make it big by simply singing cover songs on ITV, it’s remarkably refreshing to see someone doing it the old fashioned way.
Jake Bugg, a Nottingham lad who could only legally buy a pint last year, is a fine example of this, and he brought his retro folk to a sold out Lincoln Engine Shed on Sunday, a venue that even Foals, Jamie T and Mystery Jets failed to pack to the rafters.
Support came in the form of two acts hailing from Dublin. Up first was the acoustic duo of Hudson Taylor, providing sweet Simon and Garfunkle harmonies with the raw folk energy of Mumford and Sons. Little Green Cars followed, showcasing the same harmonic abilities, but with more of a Band of Horses thrust behind them.
Bugg took to the stage to rapturous applause, and although he was born 40 miles away in Nottingham, this had the feel of a homecoming gig.
He opened with ‘Kentucky’, and although visually he couldn’t be more obviously a lad from Nottingham, his Dylanesque vocals made him sound like the real deal, like a guitarist who was ‘just a man from Kentucky, have a guitar but no money.’
There has been plenty of hype and buzz following Bugg and the Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash comparisons are wholly justified. With vocals reminiscent of early Dylan supported by often raucous contemporary rock riffs, it sounds like the most obviously perfect musical formula, though one that has been seldom executed.
He’s more than just a folk rip-off though, and if anything his lyrical style is in the same ballpark as Alex Turner, Jarvis Cocker and Mike Skinner, reflecting back on the dangers and dullness of an urban upbringing.
His backing band left, leaving Bugg to commandeer the stage himself for the quieter ‘Country Song’ and ‘Slide’, though annoyingly the Engine Shed crowd soon took to talking amongst themselves.
However, it was his more energetic numbers that hit the right chord in the audience. ‘Trouble Town’, ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’, which was used by the BBC before the 100m sprint in the summer, got people jumping and jiving with glee.
Crowd interaction was minimal to say the least, with only brief introductions to songs, and he seemed content to stand in the same spot all night. Though this could possibly be regarded as a lack of confidence, he needs to offer more in-between songs, especially when selling out arenas.
An encore consisted of a rousing rendition of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison’, which seemed an entirely appropriate way of ending the set, before he said a brief thank you to the crowd and sauntered off into the night.
Thank God he didn’t take his friends’ advice to audition on X-Factor then.