Fresh from his appearance at Splendour in the Grass, Jake Bugg arrived in Perth on Friday night to play one of his three sideshows while on our shores. At just 22 years old, the Nottingham native has already got three albums to his name, worked with super producer Rick Rubin, and has already built up a large and dedicated following. Coinciding with the release of his third album entitled On My One, the stage at Metro City was well and truly set for Bugg to show exactly why he is viewed as such a bright talent.
Opening the show first though was the enigmatic Peter Bibby. Equipped with just his electric guitar, Bibby stood centre stage and controlled the early arriving crowd with a mixture of humour and songs about pills and Margaret River. His delivery is what could best be described as whiskey inflicted but it suits his image well as he sang with a large cowboy hat mostly obscuring his face. “If you’re offended by all the expletives, I’m fucking sorry” he joked before launching into Hates My Boozin’. His half an hour set punctuated by blazing guitar stabs, strained vocals, and witty one-liners taken from his debut album Butcher/ Hairstylist/ Beautician.
Bugg then strolled onstage as the paint splattered backdrop, taken from his latest album cover, was lit up behind him. His casual attire of black jeans, a black shirt and a pair of trainers fitting perfectly with his rather subdued walk up to his microphone. Bugg is not really known for his onstage presence, he mostly lets his music do the talking for him, so without much in the way of introduction he launched into the self-titled track off his third offering.
On My One was an interesting choice for an opener, as the dark and slow strum immediately brought down the crowd’s volume. The venue dropping to a silence as Bugg laid his personal troubles bare of being a successful musician while he feels like he has no one around him with which to share it. “Three years on the road, 400 shows, where do I call home, no place to go, where do I belong?” he sang while being almost as far away from his home as possible.
The brooding opener then led into the biggest hit of Bugg’s career so far, Two Fingers. The crowd instantly returning to their boisterous mood as soon as the opening guitar strums were heard. The chorus then brought a rousing sing along as the youthfully defiant track proved to still pack a hefty punch.
A rip through another song, Seen It All, from his debut album kept the predominantly British crowd enthralled. The recounting of a story from his teenage years proving to be a particular highlight of the night. The tales of urban decay and moral corruption seem to undoubtedly be where Bugg is most comfortable and confident though. It allows him to paint pictures of streets that no one ever walks alone at night and sing stories about characters who are struggling to get anywhere in life. Messed Up Kids showcasing this best as Bugg documents about “Johnny” who “deals a bit of blow on the side, thinks that he’s invincible, hates a fight.”
The country twang of There’s A Beast And We All Feed It lifted the energy once again, before another crowd favourite in Slumvile Sunrise was aired. The track, taken from Bugg’s sophomore album Shangri La, kicked in with a dirty guitar riff and a rapid fire delivery of lyrics. It also offered a chance for Bugg to show off his incredibly impressive and underrated guitar skills as he pulled out an extended solo much to the crowd’s delight.
He then stepped out mostly on his own, equipped with just his acoustic guitar, to perform Me And You and a stunning version of Broken. His live vocals were put to the test but he hit the gut-wrenching high notes with impressive ease. “Have become all I lost and all I hoped for, but I must carry on, always one,” he crooned sorrowfully on a night which was in keeping with his latest album’s tales of isolation and loneliness.
After the sombre Broken, Bugg made sure to leave the crowd on an energetic high though. His near 90 minute set being brought to a close with the frenzied Lightning Bolt. The song which first saw him draw comparisons to the legendary Bob Dylan, Bugg ripped through it at a frantic pace as the whole crowd was swept up into one big wave. Then leaving the stage with a few shy waves and a mumbled goodbye, the crowd left happy knowing they had witnessed the full Jake Bugg experience.