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Powerful ballads show Jake has a maturity beyond his years

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 25, 2013

By Jake Bugg

Stunning: Jake Bugg Picture: Matthew Elliott

Stunning: Jake Bugg Picture: Matthew Elliott

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REVIEW

Plymouth Pavilions

It's a big ask to expect anyone to go from obscurity to playing arenas in little over a year, especially if you're still in your teens, but that's precisely what singer-songwriter of the moment, Jake Bugg, has done. And he's pretty damn good too, as those of us lucky to have one of the hottest tickets in town witnessed at Plymouth Pavilions.

Looking, if anything, considerably younger than his 19 years, he gave us around one hour and ten minutes of intense punch-packing brilliance, brandishing his trademark Oasis meets Johnny Cash blues that veered off in rockabilly, country, rock and pop directions along the way.

Jake has plenty to say in his songs and his guitar-work is pretty impressive too, but it's his distinctive raspy voice – great to some and doubtless grating to others – that is his defining feature, somehow sounding both incredibly youthful and mature beyond his years.

To start with it seemed as if he just had one full on dynamic, as he hollered out blues-tinged belters from his debut album and new songs from his forthcoming follow up.

But around halfway through the show, he soloed a couple of melodic pop ballads, Song About Love and Slide that were so powerful and heart-wrenchingly beautiful I was surprised to find myself suddenly reaching for the Kleenex.

Marred slightly by poor sound quality and irritating crowd chat, his was a completely compelling performance in which he barely moved from the spot or said anything other than the briefest of thanks or a short intro to a song.

With minimal set, minimal band – just bass and drums – and not particularly imaginative lighting, the show was about as basic in terms of visuals as it could be.

But none of that was necessary – Jake's phenomenal raw talent simply shone through.

The encore performance of tear-jerker Broken, plus a nod to Neil Young with Hey Hey My My (Into The Black) and pièce de résistance, Lightning Bolt, left us in no doubt of the lad's genius. Simply stunning.

CLARE ROBINSON

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