Live Review: Jake Bugg – G Live, Guildford 01.05.2023

Henry Groves

By Henry Groves

It has been quite 5 years since I was last at G Live, when I saw The Vaccines play to a sold out crowd, and I had forgotten quite how much I love this venue. Although within a short train ride from London, it still manages to get a number of large household names to play the Surrey based venue. This time, I made the trip to see Jake Bugg, and in all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the night’s proceedings. 

I am going to get the slight moan out of the way. I always dread shows where the main act plays 2 sets. This evening, Bugg performed a short acoustic set before coming back on stage with his full band to play a typical headline show. My biggest dislike of this style of show is the lack of a support band. Not only from a personal point of view, as this is where I like to find new artists to listen to, but it also removes opportunities for up and coming bands/artists to play these types of stages and hopefully gain them a few more fans. It always feels a bit self indulgent, especially as Bugg played nearly 30 songs over the course of the evening. Although I am sure, bigger Jake Bugg fans probably loved hearing more songs. Moaning done, now into the proper review.

For the acoustic set, Bugg was onstage solo, performing his slower and more heartfelt songs. G Live is not a small venue by any stretch, but even with just a guitar and his vocals, he still managed to fill the room, and create such a beautiful and idyllic atmosphere across the entire venue. Despite this, I still think that having a full set of acoustic songs, whilst showing his ability to capture such raw emotion in his songs, didn’t captivate the audience as much as it could. If he had put these throughout the main set, I think it would have more of an impact and received the praise it probably should have done. Listening to a few conversations in the crowd between the sets was the overall feeling from a lot of the Guildford crowd.

It wasn’t long, though, before he returned to the stage, this time with bassist Jake Trim and drummer Ben Walton, and the second half of the set told a completely different story. He opened his second set with ‘Trouble Town’, and from the very first note, the crowd roared into action. It was a much more captivating performance, playing songs from across his career, including some unreleased songs scattered throughout the set. This was more like the Jake Bugg show I was expecting, as he worked his way through crowd favourites ‘Pine Trees’, ‘Broken’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’, but even between these, the crowd were dancing and singing along for the whole second set. Out of the unreleased songs, ‘Zombieland’ and ‘All Kinds of People’ were my favourites, and I can’t wait for him to release them. 

“I’m struggling a bit with my voice tonight, so feel free to help me out with the next two,” Bugg told the crowd just before he went into ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’. This somehow made the already lively crowd louder for the rest of the set. However, I am not sure any of us had noticed he was struggling with his vocals, as they were outstanding as usual. 

There is no doubt that Jake Bugg is incredibly talented, and this show only proved that. Despite the first set maybe not having the impact he might have wanted, he still managed to put on a show to remember. The second half of the night was truly outstanding, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to going to see him live again. 

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