University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Jake Bugg at Brighton Dome

Matthew Nicholls

ByMatthew Nicholls

Apr 19, 2018

Following the release of his Fourth Studio album ‘Hearts that Strain’ in September 2017, Jake Bugg decided he wanted an intimate tour, and that is exactly what he did.

This is not something he publicised much before the gig, so I’ll be honest with you, when I arrived at the Brighton Dome on this mild March night I did not expect to see a sign saying “Jake Bugg Solo Acoustic Tour”; but boy am I glad he chose to do a tour like this. This concert was outstanding.

Jake Bugg is a name that may have escaped your immediate consciousness. Before the gig, I asked a few of my friends what they thought of Bugg, and the almost unanimous response, to my dismay, was “I like Lightning Bolt”.  This, ladies and gentlemen, needs to change. His distinctive voice is something that often unfortunately divides people into those who love him and those who don’t. This divide, I feel, sometimes tragically overshadows his technical ability.

Jake opened the show with ‘How Soon the Dawn’, and within the first strum of his guitar you could tell that this gig was going to be something special; his voice filled every millimetre of the concert hall and you could feel each chord in your body.

Bugg then introduced himself and continued with ‘Saffron’, gracing us with a guitar masterclass, playing multiple rhythms at once whilst singing with such verve. ‘Taste It’ is a song that I had only previously heard the version of on his self-titled album. I had always liked it, but hearing it in acoustic form at this concert was something else; the dynamics, the vigour and the flair that came from this live performance is something everyone should see.

Something else worth praising was Jake’s relationship with his audience at the Dome. His boyish, innocent image made it feel as if he was new to the game, while simultaneously appearing oh-so-experienced. He responded to hecklers with humorous retorts, and when he asked if anyone in the audience had any requests and someone said, “DO Lightning Bolt!”, he responded with “But you’ll all leave if I do that now!”

The request he ended up playing was ‘Old Man’ by Neil Young, a song he seemed to know like the back of his hand, honouring the original whilst also making it his own.

It was often easy to forget that he was alone on that stage. With the amount of energy, passion and skill he generated, it felt as if there were at least two other people on stage with him at any one time.

Of course, he concluded the show with the much anticipated ‘Lightning Bolt’ which almost felt anti-climactic after enjoying the other, less mainstream songs so much.

It is odd. Someone with such immense technical skill, distinctive voice and cult following should really have more mainstream success, but for some reason it seems to have faded a fair bit for Bugg. Sure, Instagram and Tumblr are full of neo-Mods and hipsters that love his revival, but he is more than just a pastiche; Jake Bugg is class.

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