Jake Bugg | Review
Ulster Hall, Belfast • Saturday 17 February ’18
Emer Dooris • Photos: Marta Janiszewska
This weekend, Jake Bugg brought his acoustic tour to Belfast and it was a very special intimate thing to behold one man his guitar and a room full of adoring fans.
The Saturday night soldout crowd came across as very raucous in the bar area and in the entrance, but once they stepped through the doors into the auditorium, there was a bit more hush and reverence. Fewer active mobile phones than I’ve seen at a gig in a while as well. A mixed crowd of all ages but all excited to hear Bugg ‘unplugged’. Sam Fender warmed up the crowd with a beautiful strong vocal and with Northern charm; telling the audience that he didn’t make up a stage name it really is his name.
As the lighting changed and a single chair appeared in the spotlight surrounded by guitars, some ethereal music played setting the scene before Bugg appeared.
Thanking everyone for coming out on a Saturday to see one man and his guitar, Bugg started the set with ‘Hearts that Strain’, moving swiftly into new hit ‘How Soon the Dawn’. Bugg went on to play an to older number ‘Saffron’; It was third on the setlist following the first of a few crowd pleasers. It wasn’t until he began his anthem ‘Slide’ and the hit dedicated to his hometown ‘Trouble Town’ that we really felt the temperature of the audience rise, as they sang along to chorus after chorus and the atmosphere in the Ulster Hall, which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
I have to be honest I lost track of the setlist at this point as there was a lot of clapping, toe-tapping and singing along, but I do know Bugg treated the audience to a short but sweet rendition of ‘Country Song’ and ‘Me and You’ before announcing it was time to move things up a gear and asking the audience what they wanted to hear. A queue from an overexcited audience shouting requests with pleasure in their eyes. I was happy as he sung ‘Broken’, one of my favourites and one which the audience nearly out-sang the performer.
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