Live Review: Jake Bugg

o2 Academy – 1/11

November 1st at the O2 Academy brought to mind the words of William Faulkner, “the past is never dead, it’s not even past”, featuring as it did, three bands, totally fresh-sounding, yet connected by an unashamed debt to music of eras gone by.

First up were The Family Rain, a three piece guitar band from Bath all dressed in black and sporting beards. Their set consists of gritty, blues-tinged indie rock that reminiscent of Kings of Leon before they became bland and dull. They obviously have no desire to outdo the twee indie-bobbins of today, instead channelling the vigour of classic bands such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. The band has a very anthemic flavour, better suited to playing a packed arena than to the fifth of a Jake Bugg audience who arrive to see the support acts. However, considering their debut album isn’t even out yet, that could well be the trajectory this group takes.

Next up are Honeyhoney, an American male/female duo who play stomping Americana. The warm sound of the plethora of stringed instruments they swap between coupled with Suzanne Santos’s smoky voice give the songs a classic sound reminiscent of Lee Hazlewood’s collaborations with Nancy Sinatra.

After a rousing sing-song whilst Champagne Supernova and The Stone Roses’ Waterfall roar out of the PA system, Jake Bugg opens with the Electric Dylan-esque jangle of ‘There’s a Beast and We All Feed It’. Bugg rattles through the songs energetically enough, but lacks the presence of, well, Liam Gallagher and Ian Brown, his spiritual predecessors. The crowd doesn’t care, maintaining the football-stadium atmosphere of an Oasis gig; young lads hold each other whilst belting the tunes, and at any opportunity, everyone joins in with a chant of ‘Jakey Bugg’ to the tune of ‘Give it Up’ by KC & the Sunshine Band. Clever. His new heavier, darker material is generally well-received, but the highlight of the evening is the rollicking version of ‘Lightning Bolt’. Jake Bugg has the talent, but in order to join the ranks of his heroes, he just needs that bit more charisma.

[Matthew Hayhow]

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