They say the music business is about who you know and not what you know and on this occasion that rang true as I happened to know the right person to get me in and to him I am very grateful. Jake Bugg is a name if you have not already heard, you will hear a lot more of before the year is out.
A little history: I first saw Jake at a pub in north London in March this year, when he had about 2,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook – he now has almost 30,000! I have never personally witnessed an artist explode onto the music scene in such a short space of time with astounding results, as Jake has.
He is only the second artist to have three singles as single of the week on Radio 1 and all three of those were debut singles. At the start of this year he didn’t even own a passport… he has already played several shows and festivals in Europe and in the forthcoming weeks he will be touring the USA in support of Noel Gallagher.
Tonight’s gig is for competition winners only at the small and intimate Queen of Hoxton in London, which has a capacity of 250 – a perfect size venue to see Jake at his best. These last five months have seen him play in increasingly bigger venues, which are places he is no doubt getting used to, but he seems more comfortable in these small venues. Jake is a young man of few words, just introducing the songs and letting them speak for themselves.
Tonight’s set list consists of both his singles and other tracks that people may not be familiar with, but which he has been playing for some time. Someone Told Me was delicately delivered with raw emotion. Country Song was perhaps the first track people really recognised, when his band took leave and left him to play alone. If only some of the audience members would take leave of their conversations and just listen.
Trouble Town got the first rapturous response from those listening. A song about his home town of Nottingham, it is written with candid observation of working class daily life; as did Taste It. He also included some tracks which I suspect may feature on his forthcoming album, but which not all fans are yet familiar, including Ballad of Mr Jones and a personal favourite, Love Me The Way You Do.
Jake’s new single Two Fingers is an older track than its predecessors, Trouble Town and Lightning Bolt and Taste It, but again sung with exceptional maturity talking about having regrets. It’s hard to think what regrets an 18-year old can have, but this is one of the favourites of everyone tonight, a song they can each, in their own way, relate to.
What is noticeable tonight is the improvement in the musical sound of the band, which we later learn may be attributed to the new vintage drum kit that has been acquired. Also, Jake has his eyes open more now when he is performing and scans the audience taking in what he sees, undoubtedly a development from his summer of festivals, such great experiences for him to consume.
Jake closes his set with last single and perhaps the song that has catapulted him to the attention of the media Lightning Bolt, with all those in the front row that I can see singing along and wishing there was more to come.
This secret gig will be broadcast on Virgin TV in October (date to be confirmed). Jake will be touring the US in support of Noel Gallagher and Snow Patrol, before landing back on UK soil for his own headline tour in November, which has seen venues sell out and be upgraded across the country due to exceptional demand.
12th – HMV Institute, Birmingham
13th – Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
14th – Koko, London
15th – Thelka, Bristol
17th – Club Academy, Manchester
18th – Cockpit, Leeds
19th – Fibbers, York
21st – King Tuts, Glasgow
22nd – Academy 2, Newcastle
23rd – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham