If it wasn’t for the giveaway queue round the corner, Bush Hall would be easy to walk straight past and miss. Behind the black doorway lies an Edwardian jewel which formerly hosted dances during the roaring Twenties and ran a soup kitchen during the war. When Jake Bugg’s Compass Tour was announced, taking in small venues in the north, south, east and, finally, west of London, I’m not sure I really believed I’d be within an arms length of a guy with a popularity level more fitting of the Brixton Academy, where I last saw him live. The tour coincides with the release of the title track of the upcoming album On My One – was it a single or wasn’t it? I thought it was, but then Gimme The Love appeared a few days after with a proper video, so maybe that’s a single? With three months until the album release, we may run out of singles at the current rate of release.
The set list contained a good spread of material from the early rockabilly skiffle of the eponymous debut album, the punky thrust of Shangri-La, the crooning ballads, and the new tunes with an R & B influence. Bugg’s style of delivery is minimalistic (at which point you have to remind yourself that he’s not long out of his moody teenage years) and is reminiscent of the 1970’s advert for Denim aftershave – “The man who doesn’t have to try … too hard”. He’s understandably far more interested in his fine range of guitars and performed an impressive display of fancy finger work and string bends. One particular black guitar looked so battered, it seemed positively “eroded” with Bugg love. Never one for an excessively long tune, he rattled through the set list, and 20 songs for a £17.50 a ticket represented excellent value for money.
Although a few crowd members shouted for Broken towards the end, the calls were ignored and the evening rounded off with Lightning Bolt, his first big single, and Gimme The Love, the latest. Jake thanked the crowd for listening to the new songs and held his hand out to a few fans at the front – it was his one concession to the masses. Sometimes less is more and undoubtedly this night at Bush Hall, it really didn’t matter because the talent and the music did its own talking.
Jake Bugg’s album On My One will be released on June 17th.