On 26th November, Jake Bugg played a show at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena celebrating the 10th Anniversary of his eponymous debut album.
The night was introduced by BBC Radio Nottingham’s Dean Jackson, talking about how he first came across a 15-year-old Jake submitting tracks for BBC Introducing. The show was without support, with Jake playing three sets – an acoustic one to warm up the crowd, the debut album, and a third consisting of the hits/biggest songs from his other albums.
So, in some ways acting as his own warm-up act, Jake started the show with an eight-song acoustic set. Featuring unreleased tracks from his debut album along with a few other songs that lend themself to the acoustic treatment, the crowd reacted favourably to the choice, with the biggest fans naturally singing along throughout. The first three songs were performed by Jake alone, which worked as a nice introduction to the evening.
The big one was the second set. As Jake explained, he chose to play the album in reverse order – meaning the big numbers were at the end of the set – and this worked beautifully. With the slower songs at the end of the record – and therefore the start of the set – the audience were warmed up even more, singing along when they wanted in readiness for the hits.
The set started with Jake – post costume change – alone with an acoustic guitar playing Fire. The crowd sang along during the chorus, and you could hear them start to settle. He was joined by the rest of the band for the second song – Someplace – and you could feel the room getting more into the spirit of the evening. The next few songs continued on as before. Being slower, they were performed well, but the enthusiasm from the room was not as high as you knew it could be. There were pockets of the audience singing along, but you could tell there were still those saving themselves for the better-known and more energetic songs. This part of the set was punctuated nicely by a great instrumental section at the end of Ballad of Mr Jones. The guitar part highlighted Bugg’s skills well.
With Trouble Town – and the start of a sing-a-long – you could feel the energy in the room increase. The crowd became louder and more animated. For the next song – Broken – Jake was joined on stage by the Queen Elizabeth Academy Choir and the increase in energy was built upon. The crowd reacted very favourably to the introduction to this song, and were singing along from the start.
The rest of the set continued in the same vein – the crowd singing along, Jake clearly enjoying performing his debut album and the audience’s reception to it. Unsurprisingly the crowd participation increased with Seen It All, reaching its peak with Lightning Bolt. The last four songs of this section of the show were no doubt the reason a lot of people had bought tickets. With the light show during Seen It All, and enthusiasm coming from both the stage and audience,these songs were definitely a highlight of the show. The guitar riff in Lightning Bolt sounded even better than on the record.
After another break, there was a third set. This was the “party” part of the show. Mainly a mix of songs from the latest record – Saturday Night, Sunday Morning – and his second – Shangri La – the set had a more upbeat, and – to be honest – party-like feel to it.
There was something weird, but impressive, about having a third set. Bugg was making sure the crowd got their money’s worth from the show. Starting the set with Lost, the right vibe was set. There was still plenty of enthusiasm left, and by the time Slumville Sunrise was played there were cups being thrown in the air – which of course left this reviewer thankful they weren’t in the middle of the standing section. Jake was also joined on stage by Nottingham Rapper Jah Digga during Slumville Sunrise, which seemed to go down well with the fans. Probably the highlight of the third set was the finale – All I Need was performed with Joy (Farruki) and it ensured that the band went out on a high.
All in all, it was a show worth seeing. If you are a Jake Bugg fan, there wasn’t a lot of his back catalogue absent. For someone who enjoys what they have heard but has not really delved into the albums, it was a good show and definitely a useful introduction to songs which the radio has passed over. The lighting was done really well, and it was obvious those on the floor were having a great time – those at the back making use of space to dance in pairs. It’s probably not the kind of show you could see being repeated outside of Nottingham, but it was a really good advert for Bugg, his music, and his band.
Click here for more photos from the gig.