Jake Bugg was one of my favorite contemporary artists when I was 16, in the midst of what can only be called an absolute obsession with the 1960s. He’s an English folk musician, from Nottingham, who has frequently been compared to Bob Dylan, while noticeably leaving Dylan off of his lists of influences. He has, however, included other musicians of the time, such as Donovan, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. I had lost track of him after his sophomore album Shangri La, but I was very excited to see how his minimalistic style translated to a live format and how his music has changed as he’s matured.
The support act was Kandle, a female folk-rock musician from Victoria, British Columbia, now based in Montreal. She played with another guitarist, Sam Goldberg Jr. of Broken Social Scene. They each played an electric guitar, and he provided backup vocals. This setup provided an interesting sound, allowing their two guitars two complement each other, even harmonizing at points. My favorite song that she played was “Know My Name” off of her 2014 Kandle-EP. Her style meshed really well with Jake Bugg’s sound, and she got the crowd excited about the headliner, mentioning how excited she was to see the show as well.
Jake Bugg started the night with the title track from his newest album “Hearts That Strain.” It was just him and his acoustic guitar, but his classic folk voice filled Corona Theatre. He continued with another track from his new album, “How Soon The Dawn,” which has an upbeat tempo despite the sad themes of the song. It was a great start to the evening. He said he’d be playing a mix of old songs and new, and I was definitely excited for the rest of the night.
He played his song “Saffron,” which he released as a free single to his fans shortly after the release of his debut album, followed by “Strange Creatures,” off of his 2014 EP Messed Up Kids. It was that song that really impressed upon me the talent he had with his guitar. Only Flamenco guitarists could entertain me more with a single instrument. Off of his self-titled debut, he brought me straight back to my 16-year old self with “Slide” and “Simple As This,” which I’ve always compared rhythmically to Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
The highlight of the night was “Southern Rain,” which I hadn’t heard before. It blew me away. The song is slower and quieter; the chorus is sad, yet hopeful. It was truly the most beautiful part of the night, and it’s folk songs like that, which remind me why I love the genre. He then picked up the pace and the energy by playing his first single and hit “Trouble Town.” A hit of the night was “Me and You,” which the crowd loved.
From his first album, he also played his beautiful song “Broken” and “Taste It,” which was a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed his cover of Elvis Presley’s “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues.” It fit in perfectly with the night, with his style, and he was able to add his own flavor to it. “In the Event of My Demise” was another one of my favorite songs from his new album. It sounds much more mature, sonically and thematically, compared to his earlier work.
The only song he played from his third album, which received mixed reviews, was “The Love We’re Hoping For.” He then came back to his debut with “Seen It All,” which some heckling fans had been requesting all night, and “Two Fingers.” He played “Waiting,” a song that was recorded with Noah Cyrus, Miley’s little sister. It’s a beautiful duet, and her voice follows in Dolly Parton’s footsteps as much Jake Bugg’s follows in Dylan’s. He closed a great night with his biggest hit, “Lightning Bolt,” promising that he would have played all night long if he was allowed to.
As he said after each song, “Cheers, Thank You,” for an amazing show. To be able to hold an audience for an hour and a half with just your guitar and your voice is something that is rarely seen today. His sound is deeply rooted in the past, but his themes are universal. I had an amazing time, and I look forward to seeing what he does next.
Review – Rhodes Ford
Photos – Kieron Yates