Performing a string of hits from his fledgling career, Jake Bugg packed out the Echo Arena, Getintothis’ Joel Richards was there to taste it.
Imagine being 20 years of age and performing to sold out arenas. For many that will be a distant dream forever and a day, but for Jake Bugg that is pretty much the norm. Having shot to prominence before he could even legally drink, the Nottingham native rocked up at the Echo Arena with two albums behind him and in the midst of a UK tour.
Strolling on to the stage with a confidence belying his youth, Bugg opened up with Messed Up Kids and instantly everyone bought into it. What broadens Bugg’s appeal is the fact that you can listen to any of his lyrics and they will resonate with you in some form or another. From dalliances with drugs in your youth (Seen It All) to wanting to escape the bleakness of council estate life (Trouble Town), it’s fair to say that he manages to capture and tell the story of modern-day Britain in a way few veteran songwriters can.
From the get go, Bugg had the near sell-out crowd singing along to nearly every word. This was certainly the case for Storm Passes Away – a heavily country inspired track which displayed his natural gift with the guitar.
Showcasing tracks from his latest LP Shangri-La, Bugg drifted into Me and You – a tale about the sometimes tricky waters of young love and the constant on-off nature it entails. From there Two Fingers were aptly stuck up to yesterday and another sing-along ensued.
What struck us about this gig was Bugg’s appeal and how many young children, accompanied by parents, were present. Whether that was due to the fact it was in the Echo Arena, who knows, but it seems that his music has branched out from the disenfranchised teenagers to families desperate to try and pin a musical idol onto their kids.
If there was a single criticism of the set however, it was the presence of one too many slow numbers which at times stalled what could have been bracing evening. But that’s a style Bugg will never shake off and one that’s clearly broadening his appeal – for better or worse.
That said there was still the odd energetic burst, with Kingpin and Taste It even getting the middle class parents out of their seats to showcase typically embarrassing dance moves in front of their horrified offspring. As the set wore on, Bugg injected a new lease of life and the crowd duly responded.
Although there was time for one more slowy – the brilliant Broken – Bugg unsurprisingly finished on Lightning Bolt and with that left the stage in a flash. On the evidence of tonight, Bugg’s talent is doubtless, what remains to be seen is which career route he takes, let’s hope there’s plenty of youthful vitality allowed to shine.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Antonio Franco and David Munn