As Jake Bugg takes the stage at Glasgow’s O2 Academy, a nanosecond of expectant silence is replaced by deafening screams as hundreds of fans salute his presence.
Stealing through the darkness to appear centre stage, Bugg is illuminated solely by a single, almost angelic light as he breaks into the first ominous chords of ‘On my One’. Dressed head-to-toe in black, he is the kind of artist who is all too aware that his performances need no embellishments; and it is an incredibly refreshing change.
Fittingly chosen as the opener for his tour of the same name, Bugg’s deep, rich twang fills every corner of the room. And every eye is fixed on him. His voice is liquid gold, and he has the look of someone who has seen much in his young years. The phrase ‘old soul, young body’ fits this singer perfectly. It’s amazing how much presence he holds for being such a humble and unassuming artist.
Fingers deftly moving over the strings of his black acoustic guitar, Bugg’s head and hands move in tandem with one another; eyes occasionally flickering over the expectant crowd. He acknowledges screams and waves with a barely-there nod of his head as he continues to play. A group of girls screams: “We love you Jake!” as he dips his head vaguely in their direction.
As the song comes to a close, he gruffly thanks the people of Glasgow for coming out to see his performance. This is a theme he continues after almost every song – thanking his audience sincerely for their support for both him and his new album.
After three or four acoustic songs, including ‘Simple as This’ and ‘Strange Creatures’, Bugg’s remarkably inconspicuous band join him on stage. Made up of a bassist, a drummer and a pianist, the three-piece set detract little to no attention from him.
Fuelled by the addition of the band and psychedelic illuminations from above, Bugg breaks out his more upbeat hits: ‘Gimme the Love’, ‘Lightning Bolt’ and ‘Seen it All’ to the pleasure of the crowd. Every word he sings is recited back to him with such fervour and admiration, and an occasional smirk colours his lips as he looks out to the crowd.
A remarkably talented performer in all respects, it is Bugg’s guitar skills that are of particular mention. Famed for his aggressive picking style and Johnny Cash-esque strumming techniques, it is enthralling to watch him perform such complex motions with ease.
But for all his amazing showmanship and note-perfect performances; there is a vulnerability to Bugg that is in stark contrast to the unfazed and nonchalant persona that he initially displays.
In particular, his performance of ‘Broken’ is filled with a genuine and tangible emotion and passion that few other artists can match. And it is this real and at times, unguarded, approach that makes him so identifiable with his fans. In actively writing all his own songs, Bugg is able to feel each word he sings; and that is something special.
Effortless, humble, and an immensely talented artist, Jake Bugg has definitely cemented himself at the forefront of modern British songwriters. Adding to this his constant gratitude and willingness to meet fans after his show sets him apart as a deserving and naturally gifted musician.