Splendour In The Grass means sideshows all across Australia and, with such a stellar lineup this year, we were lucky enough to have some excellent musicians come through our cities. There’s nothing quite like seeing music in an beautiful venue, and the Palais Theatre in St Kilda is exactly that. Stunning décor set the scene on a chilly Wednesday for Nottingham wunderkind Jake Bugg’s return to Melbourne, just after the release of his third album On My One.
Opening up the night, indie-pop 5-piece Blossoms embarked on a quick 30 minute set that was upbeat and included recent releases such as ‘Charlemagne’ and ‘Getaway’. The harmonies between four of the five members created wonderful contrasts and the lead guitar solos that popped up toward the end of the set really showcased the heights that Blossoms may be able to reach with a few more international tours under their belt.
Before Jake hit the stage, the crowd was full of anticipation. Beginning with the title track from his latest album, Jake’s set started with just vocals, bass and snare; easing punters into the incredible 22-track set he was about to launch into. Next, he moved effortlessly straight into ‘Two Fingers, Messed Up Kids’ and ‘Seen It All’, all equally as enjoyable as the next.
It would be nearly impossible to pick a standout tune. With each song, he recreated and built on his album sounds more than seemingly possible. The way he layered his vocals over his energetic rhythms and licks is incredible. There was an atmosphere full of excitement and energy that would often take a number of lesser musicians to create. Backed up by a keyboardist, drummer and bassist who are equally as talented, Jake Bugg and his band were consistently tight and spirited. Tracks like ‘The Love We’re Hoping For’ included an eerie sense of space mixed with perfectly timed climaxes to lead nicely into acoustic tunes that Jake played alone.
The seated venue didn’t stop many attendees from dancing and singing along, and at times the venue almost felt like a football match as the large groups of English fans chanted ‘Northern England’ ‘Yorkshire’ and ‘Come on Jakey Boy!’ Not one for much onstage banter, Jake Bugg smiled at the rowdier comments and kept his composure as he comfortably and confidently powered through a set that while mostly upbeat, also included acoustic breaks that captivated everybody there. It’s hard to imagine that anyone in the audience would have left the show upset that a favorite song had been missed as Jake moved from hit to hit covering most of the ground on all of his records. Toward the end of the set, Jake stepped up the pace even more, launching into huge hits with the crowd including ‘Slumville Sunrise‘ which threaded into ‘Simple Pleasures’ that then ended in an epic guitar solo.
While there was no encore for this show, Jake Bugg decided to end his set with arguably his most well-known and successful song ‘Lightning Bolt’ from his 2012 debut album. It was the perfect choice to end a wonderful set. While Jake’s stage presence is not showy, his musicianship speaks for itself and with each new release and tour it is no doubt that Jake Bugg will be around for a long time yet.