As an artist, Jake Bugg has taken more artistic twists and turns with his sound than a 2009 Disney kid stumbling to find their place in the industry. From his self-titled debut, exploring the lives of those around him with lyrics brimming with vivid anecdotes, to 2016’s On My One which strayed away from his singer-songwriter-with-a -guitar reputation, Bugg has found himself a loyal fanbase; selling out comfortable venues across the country. This solo acoustic tour appears to be a way for the ‘poor boy from Nottingham’ to get back to his powerful guitar-shredding self and insight-filled-lyrics roots. Bugg proved that he could still handle the stage without his band when he played the Guildhall this Mother’s Day.
Georgie set the tone for the night with a laid-back acoustic set, announcing that there was no setlist as she took a sip of whiskey between songs, aiding the slight croak she’d picked up along the tour. The singer-songwriter from Mansfield is no stranger to touring with Bugg, as she also joined him back in 2016 for his On My One UK tour, displaying the country vibes of Carrie Underwood with a more rock’n’roll outlook on life. Only this time, Georgie has upped her game with kickass country songs that must have her ex-quaking in his boots. A highlight was Georgie belting out a potential break-up anthem – ‘It Ain’t You, It’s Me’ – about the need to find a man who can outdrink her, perhaps a difficult feat for someone who can own the stage five shots down.
With the spotlight on him, Bugg played a mixture of his old and new tracks – noticeably more of the old and very new, Hearts That Strain kind of era – and seemed completely in his element. Without all the faff of the band behind him, you can bare witness to the raw talent that got Bugg noticed at just 19. Playing old fan favourites such as ‘Saffron’, ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Slumville Sunrise’; he also mixed in a few of the slower songs – ‘Someone Told Me and Broken’ – with a touch of sarcasm – “I’m not boring you, am I?” And most definitely not, with these songs bringing out his inner Bob Dylan, I’ve never seen someone quite so immersed in their music, and the audience could feel every word he was singing out. An upbeat guitar hook led us into Bugg announcing that he was going to be treating the crowd to a new song called ‘Heart On My Sleeve’, which ended being a lot faster-paced than I initially assumed, going by his last album. The song spoke of a heart-warming romance and gave off the same kind of musical vibes as ‘Kitchen Table’ or ‘Love Hope and Misery’, signalling that the next tour there might be a few more tour buses full of instruments involved.
Closing his set with ‘Lightning Bolt’ and a promise to be back soon, he beamingly brought a kid on stage – earlier seen carrying a guitar into the venue – and signed the setlist for him, showing that Jake Bugg might be warmer than that cold, reserved character people suggest.
Words by – Tiffany Wright – @the_hellmouth
Photos by – Connor Mason