Jake Bugg at the Forum
This week Nottingham singer-songwriter Jake Bugg completed his UK tour, promoting the release of latest album Saturday Night, Sunday Morning with a show at the Forum. The indie artist’s recent foray into the realms of pop (which grew from an idea by Jamie Hartman, previous collaborator with Celeste, Lewis Capaldi and Rag’n’Bone Man, among others) has been something of a divider for fans and critics, offering a refreshingly upbeat new direction for some while leaving others scratching their heads – and the relocation of this final gig from the Brixton Academy to the Forum is perhaps testament to the fact. Nonetheless, the show featured some engaging moments, with an audience spanning several generations – from kids to parents and everything in between – confirming Bugg’s broad-reaching appeal.
The gig opened with Lost (from the new record), bringing an infectious melody and rhythm reminiscent of Noel Gallagher’s AKA… What a Life – which would have pleased the 50-somethings (mod-styled, former Oasis fans) accompanying the young teens in the crowd. Comparisons to the Britpop icon abounded when Bugg burst onto the scene in 2012 with his self-titled debut studio album (though it later transpired, as Gallagher himself pointed out, that much of the material was co-written with a number of producers) and this outing at the Forum made it more or less obvious that that early work remains his most popular: Two Fingers and Lightning Bolt set the crowd on fire, while ballad Simple as This was warmly received. Nonetheless, there were some convincing entries from his latest album, with Scene coming off particularly well. It’s one of his better down-tempo tracks and a definite highlight of the night, but it doesn’t quite hold a candle to classics like Broken, even when delivered live with an intensity and personal flair that it lacks on the recording.
In all, though he brought his unique vocal style and rugged realness, Bugg’s performance on Wednesday night offered little of the soul-stirring authenticity of his previous outings. At times, even the singer himself didn’t seem fully convinced by his new vibe, his lacklustre delivery at odds with the fun pop sound. He has described the making of his new album as “the most fun he’s ever had making a record” but perhaps he’s having second thoughts. That said, the crowd brought a determined enthusiasm to the event, and there is some real value in this latest creative adventure. The concert ended with an oddly incongruous duet with Joy Farrukis, who provided spirited energy on All I Need, suggesting there is more to come from the artist.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information and future events visit Jake Bugg’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Lost here: