Overpriced Booze, Short Set And A Hefty Portion Of Disappointment From This Nottingham Artist

Onstage for just over an hour and then Bugg’d off

Jake Bugg

The Apollo – a great venue for live music, Jake Bugg – one of the young British talents of today’s music scene. What's not to love about this combination?

I was looking forward to this gig ever since I managed to get hold of some tickets when the extra Manchester date was added. I had very high hopes...

The booze was cheap-tasting with a hefty price tag

I arrived quite late after rushing home from work so unfortunately missed the supporting act. Despite not quite selling out the extra date, the venue was packed and can’t have been far off capacity. 

I saw Years & Years there in April to a sell-out crowd and it looked just as full. One thing I love about the Apollo is that wherever you stand you get a great view because of the sloping floor down to the front.

I was very content stood towards the back with a cracking view, enjoying the atmosphere while having plenty of room to move about and not being shoved around by people constantly trying to get closer to the front. 

There is also obviously the benefit of easy access to the bar throughout the gig. One thing I did not love however was the fact that the only non-fruity cider on sale was the Carlsberg equivalent Somersby cider – cheap-tasting but not so cheaply priced at £4.50 a can – not even a pint! 

However, Bugg cannot be blamed for the booze selection and this was not going to dampen my spirits and I certainly managed to knock back more than one.

Bugg's live vocals are stand-out

Bugg casually strolled onto the stage just after 9pm and kicked off with a mini-four song-acoustic set on his own, starting with the aptly named title track On My One

It was an admirable move from Bugg and it deserves credit as so many solo artists these days rely on a band for greater volume and impact, especially if the live vocals leave (let's face it) a lot to be desired. 

This clearly wasn’t an issue here though, with the songs sounding even better live when compared to the studio recording. The band then came on and churned out tune after tune - spanning all three albums. 

Early highlights included the first album’s legacy of hits including Two Fingers and Seen It All, while Messed Up Kids from the often overlooked second album is also up there. 


A solitary figure with an acoustic guitar

Mixed in with the well-known songs were probably two-thirds of the tracks from the new album, including Love, Hope and Misery, Bitter Salt and the poignant Never Wanna Dance.

Just as I was about to head to the bar for a cider (if you can't beam 'em) the lights went down and Bugg was stood solitary on stage with an acoustic guitar – I knew it was going to be something special. 

The instantly recognisable guitar and opening lyrics of Bugg’s haunting masterpiece (in my opinion) Broken emerged to a massively excited and attentive audience. There was such a feel-good atmosphere and the crowd were loving every song.

Then Bugg announced, to much surprise (and something like horror) that this would be the last song - he then ended with the obvious feel-good Lightning Bolt before leaving the stage. 

That was the first and last time he talked to the crowd.

No encore?

The lights swiftly came on and many seemed puzzled - no encore? 

But then how could there be, Bugg had just performed his two biggest hits. Some stayed still while others headed towards the door but then the backing music came on signalling the end of the gig. 

Perhaps I expected more with the last concert I went to being Springsteen’s three hour set at the Etihad with two encores. Bugg’s performance can’t be faulted for the quality, yet he certainly lacked a stage presence with no real interaction with the audience as he blasted through his hits – with the majority being under 3 minutes long it’s no real surprise he was only on for an hour and 10 minutes. 

Realistically, he could have done more as some of the best-known songs from the second album didn’t get a look in and when looking at his recent set lists performed in the States, he was doing an extra 5 or 6 tracks on average compared to the Manchester gigs. 

This being the start of his UK tour, perhaps he didn’t want to over-do it but to be honest I was disappointed. I know there’s the saying “leave people wanting more” but when it was 30 quid a ticket for a show barely over an hour, as much as I enjoyed it, I couldn’t help feeling a little robbed. 

This 22 year old has clearly got the talent, if only he'd share it more with the fans who got him to where he is today.

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Written By

Joe Ward

A big fan of music, food and drink in Manchester (not necessarily in that order...)