This was it. The one we’d all been waiting for. Many many months ago this gig sold out as the hype around Jake Bugg built from local murmurings to an all out East Midlands frenzy. This gig even sold out long before Jake was adopted by Noel Gallagher as his new best mate and surprised the world by hitting number one in the album charts. Put simply, Nottingham was hoping for something exceptionally special from this homecoming.
All of those lucky enough to be in Rescue Rooms created an amazing buzz as the crowd waited for Jake’s appearance. All things were in place for “young Dylan” to wow his home crowd. Jake Bugg then emerged to a raucous atmosphere and actually did a Dylan by throwing a curveball to the crowd – he opened with two songs from his ‘Taste It EP’: ‘Kentucky’ and ‘Love me the Way You Do’. Thankfully unlike Dylan he kept the songs in their original incarnation and although the crowd were put out, expecting tracks from his eponymous debut LP, there was still excitement in the air.
People liken Jake Bugg’s sound (presumably primarily of his voice) to Bob Dylan, however ‘Trouble Town’ was suddenly sounding like Johnny Cash. This was presumably down to the bassist, who provided a strong rhythm for Jake throughout the gig. The strength of the bass on this song was previously demonstrated on his performance for Jools Holland on the BBC.
As Jake Bugg launched into ‘Seen It All’, there was the feeling that the gig was yet to really get going, but there remained plenty of time. This was followed by the unquestionably Dylan-esque ‘The Ballad of Mr. Jones’, which gave Jake a chance to show off his talents on electric guitar: he certainly succeeded.
The pace of the gig then slowed a bit as Jake demonstrated the talents that first garnered him attention – the 18 year old alone on stage with an acoustic guitar. As talented as Jake is as a songwriter and guitarist, his lack of charisma unfortunately meant that the songs didn’t truly penetrate the heart in the same way as they do on record. This lack of charisma unfortunately seemed to be the problem throughout the first two thirds of the gig – the crowd lapped up the songs, but Jake only rarely seemed to mirror this excitement on stage. He obviously thanked the home crowd for their support throughout, but there was no gushing praise like the crowd were giving to him. We have to cut Jake some slack, he is of course only 18 and the weight of expectation seemed to burden him throughout the night.
Thankfully the final third of the gig was nigh on faultless, he closed the main part of the set with crowd favourites ‘Two Fingers’, ‘Taste It’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’and the energy levels were finally rising in Rescue Rooms. Jake and his band were then recalled to the stage by chants of “We are Nottingham” and finally the lad from Clifton broke into a grin, as he saw the adoration of the homecrowd. With his confidence and the crowd’s energy finally at the same level, ‘Country Song’ reverberated beautifully around the venue. The encore was a faultless demonstration of Jake’s power as a balladeer and a rocker.
This gig was expected to be a joyous homecoming and a special night for the local music scene. It was an unquestionably strong gig at times, however after all the build up and excitement there was a slightly underwhelmed feeling in the air. The gig only clocked in at fifty minutes (including omitting personal favourite ‘Broken’) and used the exact same setlist as the remainder of the tour. It seemed like the gig wasn’t really a glorious homecoming for Jake, but just the last date of his UK tour. The gig was never going to live up to the hype that surrounded it, but we dreamed of a happy homecoming that alas only really materialised in the final twenty minutes of the gig.
…Liam has been listening to Fleetwood Mac – The Chain…