Little Noise Sessions: Jake Bugg at Union Chapel
Little Noise Sessions, curated by Jo Whiley, are held in Union Chapel in Islington every year in aid of Mencap. The particular focus is on raising awareness around the simple logistical issues faced by people with learning difficulties – the seemingly straightforward act of going to a gig being problematic for those who require a lot of care and support. It’s a great cause, and Union Chapel is surely one of the finest venues in London.
Jake Bugg was the headline act this evening, but first up were Canterbury band Syd Arthur, playing a modern take on pastoral 1970s British psychedelia, full of crashing drums and odd guitar riffs. They didn’t have their best set last night – there were tuning and timing problems early on, and the sound was terrible, echoing around the chapel, resulting in a homogenous mash of noise. You could sense there were interesting things going on underneath as the members pranced about with mandolins, keyboards and guitars, but it was all lost in the mix – and good luck deciphering a single word singer Liam Magill said in their entire set.
There were no such problems for Jake Bugg, who rattled through his set, playing hit singles like Trouble Town and Slumville Sunrise to rapturous reception. Indeed, such was the admiration in the crowd, at one point people applauded when he took a drink from a bottle of water. But some of the material is a little lacking: Country Song sounds half-finished, with meandering lyrics that don’t really go anywhere. It’s all a bit samey too – every fast song begins with the same skiffley strumming. Still, that never held Johnny Cash back.
Bugg’s stage presence leaves a little to be desired, as he barely mumbles more than a sentence or two all evening. But the talent is undeniable, particularly during live favourite Broken, and Me and You deceptively sweet in its simplicity. His guitar playing is becoming more of an asset too, showed off on the syncopated folk picking of Strange Creatures. Someone’s been listening to Bert Jansch.
Finishing with Lightning Bolt, people were literally dancing in the aisles, and he received a huge standing ovation. One could hear the inevitable Bob Dylan comparisons being bandied around a couple of times, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s all very derivative, but with so much natural talent and flair for songwriting, the best is surely yet to come.
Photo: Adam Bennett
For further information about Jake Bugg and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Me and You here: