Live Review: Jake Bugg with Natalie Findlay at London 100 Club – 31st May 2012

By on Tuesday, 12th June 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Down in the foundations of Oxford Street, among the walls lined with pictures of 100 Club’s illustrious musical heritage, 18-year old folk singer Jake Bugg is set to continue his dizzying trajectory into the public consciousness. With his debut album set for release on the 22nd of October and having stolen the show at both Dot to Dot festival and on BBC’s ‘Later… with Jools Holland’ in the past fortnight, it is plain to see why so many critics have been quick to make hyperbolas comparisons to some of music’s biggest names.

Supporting is upcoming London soul songstress Natalie Findlay, who takes to the stage with an a capella intro, punctuated by percussive strikes on the microphone to create a dynamic reminiscent of blues legends Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. Soon Natalie is joined by the final parts of her raw three-piece, who drop in to an upbeat Bo Diddley-style riff, as she ducks and winds provocatively while singing of ‘Gin on the Jukebox’.

The anticipation of the 200 or so gathered for this night is palpable as Jake Bugg fights his way through crowd to the stage. Rifling through his opening track – the as yet unreleased ‘Kentucky’ – he sets a swift pace and bare country tone that are continued throughout his burgeoning portfolio. He follows with a rare mellow punctuation that synchronises his characteristic vocal hum with expressive acoustic arpeggios in ‘Love Me the Way You Do’.

After a haunting solo rendition of early single ‘Someone Told Me’, Jake Bugg is joined by the rest of his minimalist three-piece for ‘2 Fingers’; an escapist number telling of joy at permanently leaving old haunts, his vacant stare and midlands patois add a sincerity to swamp country sounding ‘Ballad’, which belies his meagre years.

As his set progresses through the driving folk rhythm of ‘Seen It All’ and playfully absent lyrics of ‘Slide’, it begins to feel as though he is somehow reluctant (as with most great folk forefathers) to stick to the material that is currently fuelling his ascendancy. There is some relief in the crowd as he drifts seamlessly into the 21st century hobo ramblings of ‘Trouble Town’ and his organically simplistic solo on the much publicised ‘Country Song’ (currently the winning ingredient to brewer Greene King’s advertising campaign).

He tracks this rich vein through new single ‘Lightning Bolt’, which possesses an up tempo rhythm and transcendental lyrics that draw comparisons to both Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan circa 1965. While the innocence of lyrical love letter ‘Saffron’ wouldn’t jar the ears of ‘Abbey Road’-era Beatles fans (and is currently available free from his official Web site). He closes with the relatively unknown quantity of ‘Green Man’, whose shuffle has the crowd swinging, but a lack of depth and focus on regional charm may allude to a direction in which he may not wish to be pushed.

Having written solo material since age 14, it’s doubtless that a much larger back catalogue is propping up the peak of the iceberg we currently see, as his material matures into more adult worries. Tracking the success of Jake Bugg could turn in to a life long occupation, but the nature of such pure (and at times rebellious) form of music means us plebs will have to wait for him to do it on his terms. To use an agrarian analogy; a man who is so clearly making music out of natural compulsion should not be stressed until the milk turns sour.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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