Sunday 23rd Febuary saw Jake Bugg roll into town, and what a great weekend he’d had, starting it off with a sold out show at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, and ending this fine weekend at another sold out show at Manchester’s Ritz. To say it’s been a good year for 19 year old, Bugg is an understatement, having released his sophomore record, Shangri La, at the tail end of last year and working with legendary producer Rick Rubin, he proved that he’s not a one trick pony.
Opening the night was Georgia based indie rock n roll band, The Silver Palms, gathering influences from the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Doors and Kings Of Leon, they wet our appetites for the rest of the night. The band are headed up by brothers Dalton and Adam Drury, with Wade Beahm and Jordan Scott completing the outfit. They took to the stage at 8pm, swiftly getting right to business, they flew through their set with ease and precision. They are a tight outfit adorning muscular guitar riffs, punchy drums and sweet vocals, their sound is bold, often at times heavy but also very much poppy, this especially comes through in their new single, Superstar.
They closed their set with début track, Georgia Boy, the atmosphere was firmly alive, they found their stride towards the end of the set as throughout it felt like it took them a while to really feel it and relax, to get out of their heads, to stop over-thinking it. The one thing that we will hopefully see more of as they progress their live shows is them connecting more with the audience, I felt there was a slight lack of this at the show, and at times it meant that they were a bit stiff. All I can say is they will find their stride in time and then they will be unstoppable. There were a few glimpses of special moments, and they were magic, they do have the ability and the talent to go far, it’s just a matter of time before they find their stage legs and soar to even greater heights. But having said that they’ve got the good looks and Southern charm that will make all the girls swoon.
The Sliver Palms are currently splitting their time between support slots with Jake Bugg and The Orwells, before heading back to the US for SXSW and a stint of headline shows and support slots. Clearly they will be back in the UK very soon, most likely on their own headlining tour, at the rate they are gaining attention right now and we will gladly welcome them back with open arms.
Bugg entered the stage left climbing the flight of stairs up to the stage and then breaking out in full swing to album two opener, There’s A Beast and We All Feed It, instantly creating a wave of excitement around the room, as the crowd lapped up every single minute of it. Bugg stopped to say a quick thank you before launching into Trouble Town which continued to pick up steam and it revelled in it’s glorious pace. Bugg was very clever and meticulous in the songs he picked from his back catalogue, making sure to give the audience a good mixture of both old and new, it was clear every time he sang a track from his début, the crowd went wild, there was a significant change in atmosphere to the older tracks, people were more receptive to that being that they knew the words and were singing along in uproar with Bugg. Though, there was definitely certain tracks off his sophomore record that the crowd took to just as well, Slumville Sunrise and Kingpin were definite winners. A small portion of the crowd was even trying to start a mosh pit, as they jumped around and started acting like maniacs, not everyone was having it but each to their own I guess.
The Ritz is one of those venues with a slight grandeur and opulence to it, with the ground floor reserved for standing and a balcony surrounding the room, where the lucky few can get a better view of the stage or you have a few scattered around on the available seats and bar area. The venue was packed for this sold out show with everyone wanting to get a glimpse of the singing sensation. As Bugg went into his acoustic set, he treated us to a visceral, rousing, delicate rendition of Pine Trees and the stunning tear jerker, Broken, always a crowd favourite topped with a brooding vocal from Bugg, leaving the crowd chanting “Jake, Jake, Jake” to voluminous applause. He ended his set on a high note with the delightful combination of Slumville Sunrise and What Doesn’t Kill You before he departed the stage for his encore. It’s his subtle charisma and confident stage presence that builds and builds as the night goes on, leaving the crowd stunned in his presence.
Returning to the stage for his encore, opening with current single, A Song About Love, a heartfelt, solemn moment that erupts with passion as he belts out and pleads “Is that what did you wanted? Songs about love? Is that what you hoped you would find, when it’s burning inside, but a song about love’s not enough”, the song was met with rapturous applause and another crowd/Bugg sing-a-long. We were treated to a special surprise guest in the form of BBC Sound of 2012 winner, Michael Kiwanuka, he and Bugg sang one his songs, Tell Me A Tale, which went down rather well, Bugg noted that he last played The Ritz two years ago supporting this very man and Kiwanuka joined Bugg on stage for closing number and winner of the night, Lightning Bolt. Bugg owned the stage with his precision and style taking the forefront, he truly cemented why he is one of our best young talents and surrounded by his adoring fans he is at ease, with their camera phones in the air and every so often “Jake, Jake, Jake” is being chanted, the feeling of contentment is reciprocated at every opportunity. I think it is fair to say that everyone in the room was ecstatic after the show, Bugg gave us a show and a half, truly cementing why he is a superstar, going from playing tiny hometown shows to touring the world, playing some of the most prestigious venues, in the space of 2 years, that is something to be proud of.
You could feel the love in the room for Bugg, I think it’s safe say he had stole everyone’s heart by the end of the night. Bugg delivered a versatile and proud performance, as an audience you can’t help but be drawn to him as a performer. He has a talent that is sure to take him to even greater heights in the coming years, bigger venues and more success, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving and humble fellow as Bugg. I have to note that since I last saw him this time last year, he has considerably grown as a performer and has finessed his live set, which can only set him in good stead for what’s to come, the world is his oyster.
Set List: 1- There’s A Beast and We All Feed It, 2- Trouble Town, 3- Seen It All, 4- Me and You, 5- Storm Passes Away, 6- Two Fingers, 7- Messed Up Kids, 8- Ballad of Mr. Jones, 9- Pine Trees, 10- Broken, 11- Simple Pleasures, 12- Green Man, 13- Kingpin, 14- Taste It, 15- Slumville Sunrise, 16- What Doesn’t Kill You, 17- A Song About Love, 18- Tell Me A Tale (with Michael Kiwanuka), 19- Lightning Bolt
Jake Bugg is back in Manchester at the weekend for the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival before heading to South America and Australia for some live dates. He’s back on UK shores this summer to play Reading and Leeds, tickets are still available so be sure to get yours now. For more info on the bands, see the links below.