Producer/Mixer Bob Clearmountain has worked with some of the best musicians in the world – from the Stones to Springsteen – and when I asked him what he thought of young Jake Bugg, his eyes instantly brightened and he called him “amazing”.
This conversation followed a blistering live set where the 19-year-old folk troubadour commanded the stage, switching between acoustic and electric guitar, joined by only a bassist and a drummer, with Clearmountain at the board.
Jake’s uncle gave him his first guitar and he’s never been able to put it down. Even backstage in the Green Room before the show, he was playing almost the entire time. It’s clear he’s found his calling.
So when Music Director Jason Bentley asked how his monumental rise to success in the last year and a half – especially in his native country – was impacting him, his response wasn’t all that surprising. He said that it was all he ever dreamed and thought about since the moment he started playing, so it not only feels right, but “in a way, that’s all I know”.
For the last Apogee Series session of 2013, in front of a packed crowd, he exploded out of the gate with the high energy pop of one of the best songs on his new record “Shangri La” called “There’s a Beast and We All Feed It”, followed by three standouts from his debut (including my personal favorite, “Two Fingers”).
He talked about his time recording with Rick Rubin and how the super producer taught him that something very simple can change the whole feel of a song. He used the ballad “A Song About Love”, as an example and then played it solo to kick off the second set, followed by a gorgeous version of “Broken”.
The band joined back in for a couple tracks, includes his hardest to date, the punk-infused “What Doesn’t Kill You”. He ended the show with his biggest hit, “Lightning Bolt”, adding in a killer guitar solo and destroying any doubt about whether the song stands on it’s own apart from the commercial for Gatorade that helped make it famous.
Early next year, he’s returning to his hometown of Nottingham for an arena show – as sure a sign as any that he has come a long way. And with so much talent at such a young age, it’s going to be very exciting to watch where he goes from here.
The live set will air on Morning Becomes Eclectic on December 23.
JAKE BUGG LIVE ON KCRW — SET LIST
THERE’S A BEAST AND WE’LL FEED IT*
SEEN IT ALL
MESSED UP KIDS*
A SONG ABOUT LOVE*
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU*
* off the new album Shangri-La