I love Jake Bugg. There, I’ve said it, put it down in black and white for all to see. He was the first artist, that my then 5 year old son, showed an interest in and requested I bought him a CD. I liked the fact that it was Jake’s lyrics that drew him in and Tom (my son) could often be heard reciting them around the house and for that reason alone, I love him. He was the 2nd ever gig I took him to, having set the bar high that summer with Pixies at Castlefield Bowl for his debut. Fast forward 10 years and I’m standing in the huge aircraft hangar that is the O2 Victoria Warehouse, waiting for the now 28 year old to take the stage. Sadly, Tom has outgrown Jake, so I’m on my own. There is a protracted intro, an Oasis singalong followed by an upbeat instrumental, before Jake bounds onto a dimly lit stage, greeting us with an “alright Manchester”, with his trademark East Midlands twang, before launching into the dancey “Lost”. Now 5 albums into his career, with a sixth expected imminently, there is a large body of work from which to pluck 23 songs for tonight’s show. It’s telling that between them, there is only one track taken from albums On My One and Hearts That Strain. The set is neatly punctuated by tracks from “Jake Bugg” – Broken, Lightning Bolt, Simple As This, Seen It All and Two Fingers, which serve to counterpoint several new, unfamiliar songs such as Habits, Hold Tight, Man On Stage and Seventh Bridge Road. “Seen It All” is the first true singalong of the night and beer is sloshed from pint glass to floor as the punters in the rear bars rush back to the floor. The bulk of the set is culled from 2021’s somewhat disappointing “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning”, 9 songs in all, with just 3 from Shangri La.
There’s nothing pretentious about Jake Bugg, or equally dangerous or innovative in his music. He’s not Ed Sheeran, for which we must all be grateful for. He has the ability to weave a great story into his music, much the same as early Arctic Monkeys or even The Jam. Gritty realism about growing up in Nottingham, [Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is named after the classic 1960s film, from the book by Alan Sillitoe, about a Nottingham lad who gets embroiled with a married woman’s infidelities and takes a beating for it] has given way to more esoteric subject matters, as the music has become more aligned to the dance floor. To be fair the closing number “All I Need” is a bone fide banger.
As ever, there is no encore as Jake believes there is no need. What is said, is said. Do I still love Jake? Well as he says in Kiss Like The Sun “It wasn’t love, it’s only for a night”. We have joint custody of Tom and I still have visiting rights to the first two albums.