Bethan was there to experience Jake Bugg's scintillating sold-out homecoming show at Rock City.
Aware that Jake Bugg was from the local area but not being born and raised in Nottingham myself, I was somewhat naive to level of passion and respect that the indie folk singer has earned from his hometown. What felt like every local boy and their parents rocked up to cheer ‘our Jake’ on. The energy in the air was already electric with the main floor of Rock City being rammed with adoring fans eagerly anticipating for Bugg to take to the stage.
Teasing the crowd before showing his face, Jake’s collaboration with DJ duo Camelphat Be Someone boomed across the room as the lights went down. With the song not comfortably fitting in with Jake’s setlist, set-up or tone of the evening – this was a smart way of incorporating his new musical ventures into the night while simultaneously hyping up the crowd further for his arrival.
"No need for fancy lighting, gimmicks or devices designed to get a crowd going, [Bugg] being himself with his guitar and music was more than enough."
Taking to the stage to an eruption of applause, Jake came out of the gate with new song Rabbit Hole. It’s brave of any artist to begin a set with brand new material, not guaranteeing an enthusiastic response from the crowd – this was not an issue however for Bugg. Throughout the set, the room hung off his every word; chanting, cheering and moving along with his every note, whether an old favourite or never before heard track. With new music set for release next year, the people at Rock City were treated to a handful of new material.
"It’s moments like these which remind you of the power of live musical entertainment; a roomful of strangers uniting in their love for music."
His new tracks ranged from your typical Jake Bugg style, bluesy folk singer-songwriter songs such as Scene which followed a break-up storyline to Habits, a much more upbeat song carried by a gritty, catchy guitar riff. Habits was a particular personal favourite, showcasing not only Bugg’s diversity as an artist but also his vocal range and level of magnitude which his music can reach.
Despite all of the new tracks going down a storm, it’ll be no surprise to hear that already beloved bangers from Bugg’s earlier albums tore the roof off. It was mere minutes before the first flare of the evening was lit, upon hearing the opening notes of Trouble Town. Pyrotechnics I have to admit was not something which I was expecting from the crowd of an indie folk singer – the people of Nottingham are always full of surprises. As the security of Rock City pounced into the crowd, the sea of people continued elatedly, unphased – only concerned with the events on stage. Jake Bugg needed to do very little to elicit energy and spirit from the audience. No need for fancy lighting, gimmicks or devices designed to get a crowd going, being himself with his guitar and music was more than enough.
"As the night progressed, what became astonishingly clear was how Jake Bugg’s music has etched its way into the hearts of the people of Nottingham."
Dynamic tracks such as There’s A Beast And We All Feed It and Slumville Sunrise from sophomore record Shangri-La kept everyone in high-spirits with their zestful, bluesy tempo, while acoustic renditions of Slide and Simple as This brought the pace down, allowing the crowd to catch their breath and bellow out some heartfelt lyrics. An acoustic performance of Broken was especially poignant as the crowd who were just losing their heads over one of Bugg’s most energetic songs Lightning Bolt suddenly came to a halt upon hearing the opening notes. Gently swaying and singing along to the cherished and simply beautiful song, it’s moments like these which remind you of the power of live musical entertainment; a roomful of strangers uniting in their love for music.
Jake concluded the night with a handful of promised ‘singalong songs’ after playing a couple of his new tracks. Seen It All saw the room singing their hearts out, while Simple Pleasures illustrated just how talented Bugg truly is behind his guitar, effortlessly gliding his way through complex, melodic guitar riffs. Two Fingers without question brought the room to their knees. One could feel the pride in the air as the people sang back the lyrics “I drove back to Clifton to see my old friends” towards the man on stage who has reached such monuments achievements, yet never lost touch with where he came from. The crowd became an amalgamation of dancing, flailing arms and people swaying on each other’s shoulders, lost in a sea of smoke from multiple flares being set off throughout the floor. Knowing full well that encores have for some time now been a tired, unspirited gimmick, Bugg refreshingly chose not to partake in the act. Not quite ready to leave the people of Nottingham just yet, Bugg extended the song for one final belting chorus.
As the night progressed, what became astonishingly clear was how Jake Bugg’s music has etched its way into the hearts of the people of Nottingham. There was an enormous sense of delight sweeping across the crowd throughout the entire night, watching the once shy boy from Clifton comfortably and confidently take on the lights of Rock City.