Jake Bugg Brings An Earnest Set to O2 Academy, 19/11/19

There’s no need to review the O2 Academy – it’s a cornerstone of culture in Leeds and it’ll stay that way for a long time. Jake Bugg’s performance on Tuesday night truly showcased this fact.  Since his 2011 Glastonbury performance and his 2012 self-titled debut album propelled him into the spotlight, Jake Bugg has developed a large and loyal following with his blues and folk heavy style of indie rock. In the same year his beloved Notts County FC were relegated from the football league, the Nottingham born and raised artist has started pumping out music again for the first time since 2017. He’s done a collaborative single called ‘Be Someone’ with CamelPhat a combination I never expected to see but one that works as well as his new single ‘Kiss Like the Sun’.

Coming onto stage Jake opened up with one of his classics ‘Trouble Town’, and soon after he sung his new track ‘Kiss Like the Sun’. Jake Bugg’s voice and style of music is perfect for the live performance. You can’t really experience his music without seeing it live and hearing it for yourself. Still only young, his well-crafted music has earned him many dedicated fans with his gritty and sometimes touching lyrics, much of which is based on his experiences growing up on the Clifton council estate in Nottingham, once the largest public housing area in Europe.

He isn’t the most charismatic character to perform on a stage but that’s not the reason you go to see him. With an honest and folk style voice that makes you tear up just listening to it, it is hard not to be captivated by his rough and brooding vocals and melancholy guitar playing. One of the best things about a Jake Bugg gig is the simplicity of it. There’s something a lot more emotional and captivating about watching just one man with a guitar put all his effort into entertaining a crowd, instead of a five-piece band accompanied by dizzying strobe lights and theatrics.

Having said that, his attempts at creating an old-school folk atmosphere can be ruined at times by the flashes of phone cameras, but such is the way of modern live music. He really did save the best till last playing, ‘Seen It All’, ‘Simple Pleasures’ and ‘Two Fingers’ back to back. It does make you wonder if he did this to make sure no one would leave early. But any true fan would be enchanted with the intimate nature of the gig. Overall, the show demonstrated that Bugg is still on form, still doing what he loves and still has bags of potential left in him. 

Photography by Tom Weatherilt