Jake Bugg – Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Welcome to another Series week! I’m calling this one the Death Throes Week.
Death throes? Yup, as has been noted, HMV will soon be shuttering all their Canadian stores. Last report I had from an employee at my tiny local shoppe, it could be happening in as soon as two weeks. But, in a happy turn of events, the other day I was told (by that same employee) that Sunrise Records will be coming in behind the HMV. I won’t need to rely locally just on Wally World for new tunes! This is happy-making.
Anyway, the death throes of the HMV have caused them to offer up some better pricing for their remaining items, and this week I’ll be going though the stuff I’ve found in their (rapidly-dwindling) stock.
Let’s give ‘er!
Today is a big Sunday blow-out review. Over 1000 words! Go get a coffee…
Y’all know I’m a pretty big Jake Bugg fan, from previous reviews, though I’m not as big a fan as my 5-year-old daughter. She just loves him.
I’ve stalked this DVD in the bins for a while now, and the best price it was ever at was as a 2-for-$30 deal, or $20 by itself. I wasn’t sure about spending that on it, and couldn’t find anything else I wanted as a 2-for-$30, so when the closing sale dropped it to 25% off, I figured I ought to snap it up before someone else did.
Let’s see what we have!
Wee bit of interview with Jake as he sits in the seats to see the crowd’s point of view. He really seems to want to appreciate it. I had a wee it of trouble understanding his way of speaking. Not so much the accent, just that he speaks quickly and mumbles.
He walks out alone and does a seated, acoustic Pine Trees that holds the crowd rapt. Another interview, this time about how he got started, then it’s full band into full-on Trouble Town. Cool to see an extra (electric) guitar player, and a keyboardist too. Seen It All is next, and it’s a great version.
Next interview is about trying to get gigs at the start, then his friend Ian joins for Storm Passes Away, a lovely country swinger with lap steel guitar too. Next up is a wee bit of interview about Michael Kiwanuka, and how welcoming and excellent Jake feels he is as an artist. Then, to help get him out there, Michael joins the band on stage and they play a cover of his Tell Me A Tale. The tune’s a soulful, welcome addition to the set of Bugg originals. Super-cool.
Jake then talks about how he listened to music different from his friends, growing up, called it a journey for himself. Then it’s a well-timed Two Fingers, which the crowd really got into, clearly a fan favourite. It’s a cool tune, one to which my (now 5-year-old) daughter knows the words too. Then he swaps acoustic guitar for electric (a lovely blonde Telecaster – my favourite, of course), and away they go into a rockin’, partying Messed Up Kids. Love it. There’s a wee bit of fancy guitar footwork at the end of the tune, and the quick smile between the guitarist and Bugg is great.
Then, through the magic of video editing cuts, we go back in time, to the gig the night before this one, at Nottingham Arena, his hometown gig. Country Song plays in the background. Fan interviews are fun, talking about how relatable his songs are for them, coming up from not much of anything to where he is now. They seem proud of him.
Then we zap back to the Royal Albert Hall for Simple Pleasures. It builds into a solid rocker, great version. Then it’s a bluesy rockin’ Taste It. There’s a woman up on a guy’s shoulders, waving her arms for this one, she has to keep pulling up the front of her shirt so her bewbs don’t fall out. To his credit, Jake does a great job of not staring. Mostly.
Then it’s a wee bit of interview with Jake about adding Johnny Marr to the show, and then Marr talks about his appreciation of Jake’s work. Marr joins them on stage for Kingpin and Slumville Sunrise, two rockin’ run-throughs with Marr ripping the guitar solos on his lovely Fender Jaguar. You could tell how much having Marr there really meant to Bugg, for sure.
Then we go to a cut scene of Jake working with a small choir of kids in rehearsal for joining him at the gig, and they have a couple of questions for him.
Jump back to the Royal Albert Hall, and away they go on Broken. The crowd goes silent and you could hear a pin drop in the place. It’s a slower version than I’ve heard him do in live settings before, but it’s such a strong song that it’s gorgeous no matter what they do to it. It takes a long time before the choir even comes in, and their part is pretty small, but when they do sing, the song achieves lift and the hairs on your arms stand up.
Before the show ends, they rip through Lightning Bolt, again with Michael Kiwanuka and Marr joining (that makes 4 guitars, a huge sound, and they all take solos) for a big blow out at the end.
One last talk with Jake, how much it all meant to him. He meant it. And as the credits roll, it’s Jake alone again, with acoustic guitar playing to the crowd (same as the DVD intro) on a bluesy tune called Strange Creatures, off the Messed Up Kids EP (the one Deke tried to get for me in T-Bay). Yes!
Jake Bugg might seem, himself, to be a bit of a dour wet blanket, never really impressed with his surroundings or anything else. But I don’t think that’s true, I just gather he’s a man of few words who doesn’t suffer fools very gladly. He’s also a man on a mission and he’s there to get the job done, so the lack of meaningless chatter and plattitudes is actually quite refreshing.
Fantastically filmed, with great sound, this is a perfect Jake Bugg concert. Loved it. I might wish they’d left the songs to stand alone and had the interviews as extra features, but this plays a bit like a documentary, and it’s still really enjoyable. The addition of Michael Kiwanuka and Johnny Marr brings the A game, and all the versions here are huge.