Jake Bugg at House of St Barnabas
The House of St Barnabas is a not-for-profit private members’ club hidden away inside an anonymous Georgian terrace in Soho. A tiny chapel stands at the building’s rear, bedecked in gothic finery. It has excellent acoustics and makes for one of London’s most exclusive and intimate venues.
On Thursday it played host to the still only 19-year-old Jake Bugg, who performed a short acoustic set to be broadcast on Absolute Radio. DJ Geoff Lloyd introduced him, informing the audience of around 40 people that Bugg had fought the effects of Los Angeles-induced jetlag by staying up all night drinking. “It wasn’t all night” Bugg retorted in an almost indecipherable murmur as he tuned up behind the microphone. It was hard to tell if his mumbling tone, which made sporadic appearances throughout the night, was down to a natural shyness or the effects of an alcohol-heavy all-nighter. Fortunately, his singing voice was in fine shape.
He played a selection of tunes from his eponymous debut album and this year’s follow up Shangri-La. Alternating between the bluesy rockabilly likes of Lightning Bolt, which he saved for last, and the slower Broken and A Song About Love, Bugg’s unmistakable vocals were allowed to show their true range. He has been dubbed the Midlands’ Bob Dylan, and his heavily Nottingham accented vocals are much like Dylan’s in that some may find them a little too whiny.
Mid-way through the set, Bugg treated the crowd to a couple of covers. Given that it’s the season to be jolly, Lennon’s Merry Xmas (War is Over) was rolled out, as well as What is a Youth, a number from Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. It was an interesting choice, adding to the list of influences already so present in all of Bugg’s work. “Some guy in a medieval costume sang it,” Bugg explained “and I thought it was a good song”.
Bugg departed the stage in the same unassuming nature with which he’d entered it. It’s certainly refreshing to find such a young superstar with his head still fixed firmly to his shoulders, and one who is able to hold his audience’s attention for half an hour armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar.
For further information about Jake Bugg and future events, visit here.
Watch the video for Lightning Bolt here: