By EMILY THORNHILL @EmmyThornhill
He’s been nominated for Best Album, Best Solo Artist and Best British Breakthrough Act at this year’s Brit and NME Awards and after this gig, I can see why.
Jake Bugg returned to Mandela Hall last week with his support act Hudson Taylor, to play his second sold-out show within five months in Belfast, as part of his first headline UK tour!
Hudson Taylor provided the warm-up for Bugg’s set, and you only had to look around to see that Bugg’s label; Mercury, were on top form music wise! They opened with “Cinematic Lifestyle“, an instant crowd pleaser! Everyone shuffled forwards asking, “Who are these?” “They’re really good!”
“Chasing Rubies” and “Watchtower” followed and soon enough the room was packed! Stamping feet, clapping hands, woops and screams – these boys aren’t going to remain a hidden treasure for long!
Now, If the girls weren’t already swooning, brothers Harry and Alfie; stripped back to one microphone, acoustic guitar and singing a capella really did it! The audience was silent, awestruck, soaking up their beautiful tones, you’d think they’d been fans for years!
Not many support acts get this kind of reaction, so normally playing new material is a risky choice. But not for these boys, “World Without You” and “Drop In The Ocean” were received amazingly! The clapping and dancing returned and I couldn’t help but smile, Hudson Taylor had Belfast in the palm of their hands!
Bugg’s set neared closer and Hudson Taylor announced their last song and for the first time in my experience, the crowd began booing and all the boys could do was laugh in amazement! “Battles” left the audience wanting more, and I’m sure they wanted more of us too, humming along to the backing vocals like it was our favourite song!
Backed by his bassist and drummer, under a single spotlight, Bugg finally emerged! Acoustic song “Fire” opened the night, which he finished off with a cheeky smile and “Evening Belfast”.
Bugg played all 14 songs from his self-titled “Jake Bugg” debut album, as well as popular songs from his “Taste It” EP. The audience began dancing, clapping and singing along, but this was just a warm up for the next couple of songs; “Trouble Town” and “Country Song”! The crowd surged forward, mosh pits broke out across the room and the odd pint was thrown, I unluckily took the brunt of two!
“Seen It All” provided a high point for the night as a hum hovered beneath Bugg’s guitar, as the audience sang “I swear to God, I’ve seen it all, nothing shocks me anymore after tonight”!
After playing new material, Bugg turned slightly sentimental, playing his two oldest songs “Someone Told Me” and “Someplace”, to which he encouraged any older fans to sing along. Mobile phones, cameras and lighters were sent skyward and a hush descended across the room as Bugg played once again, under the spotlight, alone with his guitar.
Bugg rewarded our silence by playing anthems “Two Fingers”, “Taste It” and “Lightning Bolt” to which the crowd went wild as the music burst out and provided an itchy undercurrent for Bugg’s raw vocals!
Jake left the stage to light-hearted boos and it wasn’t long before he and his cheeky smile returned to play “Broken”. As I stood listening, I scanned the room and eyes were closed everywhere. This guy is all about the voice.