Jake Bugg – review

Academy, Glasgow
Bugg sings with authority, sagely expanding his horizons and embracing the US

It's the night after the Mercury ceremony, and Jake Bugg is back among his people. If the Nottingham 19-year-old is privately smarting at being beaten to the prize by James Blake, he can reassure himself knowing that a career as long as that of fellow Mercury nominee David Bowie would give him another 47 years to complete.

It seems longevity is on Bugg's mind, as he strolls on stage dressed in black and breaks into the Lonnie Donegan-does-Johnny Cash country-skiffle of There's a Beast and We All Feed It. His tales of wasted youth, set to retro Americana and Brit-rock, have already earned a million sales worldwide. But for an artist specialising in a common touch – and you can guess what else besides camera phones were waved aloft during Two Fingers – the well of relatable experience can quickly run dry when you're getting papped with models and hanging out with Noel Gallagher.

As he dispatches 20 songs in a mere 70 minutes, Bugg sounds like an artist sagely expanding his horizons, and enjoying a minor American reinvention with his Malibu-recorded, Rick Rubin-produced forthcoming album, Shangri La. Embracing the States has well served fellow kitchen-sink dramatists Arctic Monkeys, whom Bugg sounds uncannily like on What Doesn't Kill You. There are flashes of a writer who has moved on from the council estate on the magnificent Pine Trees: "As I leave you far behind," he sings with a strong American twang, "I try to hide the route of my escape."

Bugg can't help but smile as the crowd chant his name inexplicably to the melody of KC and the Sunshine Band's Give It Up. Ballad Broken even has a burly security guard bellowing along. Neil Young's My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) is covered with authority, before Lightning Bolt suggests an electrifying young talent is set to strike a second time.

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Contributor

Malcolm Jack

The GuardianTramp

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