Mumbling, scarcely moving or expressing a flicker of emotion throughout this packed, intimate gig, earnestness and an abiding love of the folk-rock canon can’t explain Jake Bugg’s scuffed charisma, gifting his hook-laden songs centre stage.
Venue: Glasgow King Tut’s
Rating: * * * *
Review: Jay Richardson
With a wry, backwards glance to the likes of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and Donovan, as he suggests implausibly: “I’m just a man from Kentucky, have a guitar but got no money”, the Nottingham teen can veer towards sickly, John Denver-style blandness on Country Song.
Elsewhere though, with the hometown blues of Two Fingers or on Simple As This, there’s a stab of urban British grit, as he recalls being “high on a hashpipe of good intent”.
The Dylanesque Ballad of Mr Jones marries the two, as he imagines adolescent gangs seeking to steal “the last breath that you breathe”.
But he’s at his most precocious when the polished ballads give way to his more upbeat tracks.
He ripped through the alienation of Trouble Town and the roistering swagger of follow-up single Lightning Bolt, all shuffling guitar.
As a blend of retro and modern, it’s ferociously effective – close your eyes and you’ll envisage someone with several decades more heartbreak and disaffection. Closing the night with Green Man afforded a suitable wash of melancholia from an old soul trapped in a young man’s body.