Before arriving at the Royal Albert Hall I was already one bottle of wine into the night. The queue for the bar inside the venue was so big that me and the girlfriend made the sensible decision to each buy a bottle of wine, so as to avoid having to go back to the bar during the gig. Subsequently, my memory of Jake Bugg’s performance doesn’t extend to much of the particular details. I have a general sense of it being a very good gig, with Jake doing an excellent job of filling the vast and opulent cavern that is the Royal Albert Hall, and I remember certain aspects of the night – which I will try and sketch out below.
First of all, I had the presence of mind to capture the evening in photo form – with this excellent picture:
The first thing I remember is that there was no support act, so Bugg took to the stage himself and delivered a short acoustic set to warm everyone up. This created a weird atmosphere within the Royal Albert Hall, with most spectators not quite sure whether to settle in and start watching as if this was the start of the gig – or to just keep chatting away like you normally do when the support act is on. So a kind of hushed chatter fell about the venue, which Bugg did a good job of piercing through every now and then.
After a quick break, the gig was well and truly on with Bugg returning with his band and kicking off with Shangri La opener ‘There’s A Beast And We All Feed It’. A typically rambunctious and entertaining version of ‘Seen It All’ followed shortly after, before Bugg was joined on stage by Michael Kiwanuka to perform a couple of cover versions of his songs. These went down pretty well and were politely applauded, but the general feeling was that the gig was slowed down a bit.
Bugg picked the pace up with ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Messed Up Kids’ and then went into full-on captivating-mode with an awesome rendition of ‘Slide’. Not long after he was joined on-stage by none other than Johnny Marr which, on a personal level, was the highlight of the evening. Marr helped out with some nice riffing on ‘Kingpin’ and ‘Slumville Sunrise’, which finally got the majority of the reserved Albert Hall audience on their feet.
The encore only consisted of two songs – ‘Broken’ (which featured a teenage choir on backing vocals) and the obligatory ‘Lightning Bolt’.
As usual with Jake Bugg, there was limited crowd interaction. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind though that his talent deserves an occasion as grand as this.