Jake Bugg at the London Palladium
Following the remarkable success of his breakout eponymous debut album six years ago, Jake Bugg has built a large fan base for himself. At the age of 18 he was already a platinum-selling artist, and he has maintained a high output in the intervening years, although none of these releases have matched the critical success of his debut.
Today, the artist appears to be at a crossroads in his career, unsure of how to progress after a period of stagnation. His latest single, Hearts That Strain, has a heavy country influence, but was afforded little support from an underwhelming, torpid audience on Monday night. This gig never really got going, due in part to a misjudged venue choice and the inactive crowd.
Instead, the loudest cheers – and they were few and far between – were reserved solely for the early material. This made for a flat atmosphere and visibly affected an awkward Bugg: every song was followed by a drab interchange with the fans, a weak joke – garnering sparse laughs – and the monotonous introduction of the next tune.
Quite frankly, it was a bizarre choice of location; though the set was designed to create inclusiveness and intimacy, this daunting theatre offered neither. Bugg cut an isolated figure, one who was ill at ease, as confirmed by his suggestion that he was sipping on “nerve juice” (it was in fact gin and tonic, and the joke didn’t land).
The highlight of the evening was a rousing rendition of the track Two Fingers, one of the rare moments of zeal emitted from the Nottingham-born singer. Despite the earnest efforts of Bugg, even this number failed to glean much of a reaction from the spectators. At one point, there were audible snores from the second floor.
The plaintive, melodic voice – backed up by his trusty acoustic guitar – was ultimately let down by an unsuitable stage, a spiritless audience and a vapid, stultifying performance stemming from such a fragmented mise en scène.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit Jake Bugg’s website here.
Watch the video for Waiting here: