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Live Music Review: Jake Bugg at the Royal Concert Hall

8 March 18 words: Summaya Mughal

On Friday night, Notts born Jake Bugg hit up the Royal Concert Hall to play an acoustic set to his home crowd... and some special kids at the QMC...

Bugg’s support, Mansfield-born Georgie, kicked things off. Before long, it became clear to us punters in the Royal Concert Hall that we weren’t the only ones listening, as Georgie explained why there was an unusual number of camera’s hovering about the place:

“This gig is being streamed live to the bedsides of ill children - referred to as ‘Rock Stars’ - at QMC as part of the Melodic Caring Project,” an American charity established to bring music to those who can’t physically attend concerts due to their illnesses. And with that, Georgie dedicates her number Hard Times to Rockstar, Fran.

It’s a gentle number, usually with a piano backing, but Georgie’s acoustic rendition brought an added tenderness to an already delicate piece. Georgie gave us a few tunes, including one dedicated to “all those women who can outdrink their partners”, before Bugg took to the stage.

Bugg wastes no time. He strolls on in blackout - greeted by a warm Notts welcome - takes a seat and opens with How Soon The Dawn, after which he addresses his audience: “Home-shows are always the most nerve-wracking…”

And I don’t blame him. With drunken hecklers on the front-row confessing their love for the guy, and the poor lot sat around them no doubt thinking “now really ain’t the time duck. Sit down and shurrup”, Bugg has quite the audience to contend with.

Regardless, he powers through with an enjoyable and somewhat unpredictable set. Bugg switches from the nasal, country-vibe and delicate riffs thematic of his music in Saffron to the up-tempo, hard-strummed Trouble Town, then back to a slower Cat Steven-esque Country Song, where the acoustics take a backseat and the vocals drive. Before long though, he was back on the up-tempo with Me and You, dedicated to Rock Star Ben at QMC.

A few guitar changes on, the just turned 24-year-old has us on our feet - yes, the hecklers have been heard and Bugg has us standing - singing along to his penultimate number Waiting, an almost ballad-like tune that gets you swaying, which he “recorded with Noah Cyrus”. Yeah, Miley’s sis.

After Waiting, we’re left pleasantly surprised by the swift removal of hecklers, to which there’s a short celebration and an apology on their behalf by Bugg, before he gives us a few of his more familiar numbers to conclude. He wraps things up with Lightning Bolt, an assured crowd pleaser, before bidding us ‘“thank you and goodnight” as we scurry out to face the Beast from the East.

All in all, though not a spellbindingly spectacular performance, it was a good’n.

Jake Bugg played at the Royal Concert Hall on Friday 2 March. For more information about the Melodic Caring Project, visit melodiccaring.org

Jake Bugg website

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