IMG 0479

LIVE: Jake Bugg – Playhouse, Edinburgh, 23/08/2023

At this point in the month of August, Edinburgh is overwhelmed by festival activity. As if to demonstrate how exhausting it all is, a mile away just before this gig my beloved Hibernian FC get clobbered 5-0 at home by Aston Villa. This misery is compounded outside the venue while we queue to get into the gig while a busker is murdering ‘Sunshine On Leith‘ by The Proclaimers, and makes it even worse by performing a spectacularly bad version of ‘Wonderwall.’

All the while, I’m not sure about the gig tonight. I must admit, I’m not much of a Jake Bugg fan. At least, I wasn’t…

…yet by the end of tonight’s gig, I realise just how very wrong I’ve been. Opening with ‘Me And You‘ from his second album Shangri La he sets the scene for an excellent 90 minutes, playing to a sold-out crowd who don’t need any winning over. They have simply come for a fun night out – and this is what they get. ‘Note To Self‘ and ‘Simple As This‘ from his self-titled debut (which gets a lot of outtings tonight) sound absolutely brilliant live.

The thing is, it’s not that these tracks are being done radically differently from their recorded versions (though maybe, like many folk, I’ve just not heard things at their best streaming from an iPhone). Somehow live, it all comes together, and it makes for a very enjoyable show. I’d read one review where our Nottingham troubadour had been described as not having much charisma. With respect (and we all know in Britain that means the opposite, right?), the reviewer missed the point. He does have charisma: what you get from Jake Bugg is someone who’s unassuming and gets on and does the job, accompanying himself with help from a rhythm section and keyboardist.

There’s a warmth and a genuine question that we’re enjoying ourselves – we certainly are – but he’s not on a star trip, and that is utterly endearing. For some, the charisma issue seems to be confused with arrogance and being ‘mad for it, likes’ and that this is what we supposedly want from our musicians. Personally, I find it endearing that he’s notched up five top ten albums, puts on a show that does grab you, yet uses no more gimmicks than stage lighting. He sustains this over the whole damn show.

So yeah, call me surprised. Because by the end I’ve suddenly got the appeal of songs like ‘Broke‘ and ‘Two Fingers.’ His audience love him, on their feet and begging for more. He gives the impression of being far more in touch with the average joe in the street than many other supposed ‘man of the people’ rockers (you know who I’m talking about), and I go home on a high.

I left my cynicism at the door, folks. If you haven’t yet, you should, too.

Photo Credit: Edinburgh Festival

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.