The Paradiso; Amsterdam 26th November 2013

Source: Factory-matched pair of Schoeps CCM 41V microphones (DINa mounted) ->
Marantz PMD661 recorder with Oade Concert Mod
(-18 dB gain/44.1 kHz/24 bit WAV)

Lineage: Audacity 2.0.5
* Amplified right channel by 2.0 dB.
* Applied variable envelope amplification across recording for consistent listening experience.
* Attenuated audience noise.
* Added fades.
* Split tracks.
* Converted to 16 bit.
-> FLAC (compression level 8) [libFLAC 1.3.0 20130526]

Taper: Ian Macdonald (ianmacd)

Length : 76.54

01. Intro
02. There's A Beast And We All Feed It
03. Trouble Town
04. Seen It All
05. Simple As This
06. Storm Passes Away
07. Two Fingers
08. Messed Up Kids
09. Ballad Of Mr. Jones
10. Country Song
11. Pine Trees
12. A Song About Love
13. Slide
14. Green Man
15. Kingpin
16. Taste It
17. Slumville Sunrise
18. What Doesn't Kill You
20. Broken
21. Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)
22. [BANTER]
23. Lightning Bolt

Audio Sample :
Jake Bugg - Storm Passes Away - Amsterdam 26th November 2013 [ianmacd]

Notes :
What can one say about the meteoric rise of Jake Bugg?

His eponymous debut album appeared as recently as October 2012, its way paved by a bunch of appetite-whetting singles.

The follow-up long-player, 'Shangri La', was recorded in Malibu, named after the studio and produced by industry veteran, Rick Rubin. It hit the shelves only a week ago.

A few decades ago (i.e. an eternity before young Jake was born), it wasn't out of the ordinary for an artist to release a couple of albums in a calendar year, but Bugg's modern day feat of putting two albums in the shops only thirteen months apart is as impressive today, if not more so, given the temptation to keep polishing in the studio, tour commitments, video production, and the planning and marketing of the release.

Jake recently returned from a sold-out tour of the US, which was so successful that his record company brought the American release of the new album forward by two months.

That tour is now being followed by a European tour, also sold-out, including two nights at the Paradiso, of which this is the first.

The new year will see Bugg return to North America for another string of dates, followed by a UK tour, a few dates in South America and finally a handful in Australia.

...and the bloke is still in his teens. What an amazing trajectory this young man's life is now on.

What must go through his head when he wakes up in the morning and realises that he is no longer just Jake of the Clifton council estate of Nottingham? Unlike so many of his disenfranchised peers, he no longer has to be content to "skin up a fat one" and "hide from the feds". The world is his proverbial oyster.

Incidentally, when did the UK become a federation, policed by "feds"? Is that really what British teenagers call the Old Bill these days? Or is that just evidence of the advanced state of American cultural imperialism?

Most of Jake's influences are American, given a singularly British twist by our protagonist. He combines the pop sensibility of Buddy Holly with rabble-rousing Oasis-style choruses.

His (perceived) influences are well-documented elsewhere, most notably Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, although I personally hear much more evidence of the latter than the former. I also sense more than a little Woody Guthrie on the playlist of Jake's formative years.

Bugg is many things, but original isn't one of them. With the best will in the world, it's impossible to see him as anything other than wholly derivative. If, however, the critical listener can abandon the oft-harboured but ill-conceived notion that only innovative music can have any intrinsic value, then one can open one's ears to incredibly well-crafted songs, written by someone with a real gift for melody.

Bugg's music isn't dressed up as anything it's not and the man himself seems not to have a pretentious bone in his body. He is refreshingly humble, "just a guy playing a few songs" as he describes himself.

Even that could be an angle in today's jaded, angle-ridden world, of course, but his is no false modesty. He's not even a great showman on stage, appearing shy and slightly bewildered by the extent of his own popularity. He just gets up there, plays his songs with a minimum of fuss and banter, and then buggers off again for a few beers. You couldn't get much more down to earth than Jake.

Perhaps that's why tonight's audience includes in its ranks a good few kids; and I do mean kids. There are children here tonight who can't be more than 13, if that; and they know all the words to the songs.

You see, the music might sound half a century old at times, but the ethos that the young Mr. Bugg's evokes is firmly that of punk, the notion that 'anyone can do it'. A young teenager sees the very ordinary-looking Bugg on stage and perhaps sees a reflection of himself, five years down the line.

And whilst anyone who has struggled to learn an instrument or write a song can attest to the fact that most certainly NOT anyone can do it, if Bugg can inspire a generation of teenagers to pick up a guitar and have a go, that alone would make the man worthy of a medal.

Never mind the fact that few will possess the requisite combination of nerve and talent to take it anywhere; those who do will find out early and those who don't will still have fun trying.

More importantly, Bugg demonstrates that even those who come from the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods can still escape their hell-hole and make a success of their life; and they don't even need the backing of a music industry mogul or some shite TV programme to succeed.

The fact that Bugg himself is a gifted singer/songwriter in his own right is almost, but not quite eclipsed by the unsolicited function of role model that he fulfils.

And speaking of the songwriting, the second album demonstrates something of a leap in maturity. Its songs draw from a wider musical palette, 'Slumville Sunrise' recalling The Verve, for example, whilst 'Messed Up Kids' or 'Kingpin' almost have Liam Gallagher's trademark drawl channelled onto them. With this album, Bugg seems to have arrived in the BritPop nineties.

That said, it's not clear that 'Shangri La' has anything to compete with the beautifully plaintive 'Broken', the full-frontal assault of 'Lighting Bolt' or the autobiographical pride of 'Two Fingers'. We'd be referring to those songs classics if only they'd had a little time to age.

We can analyse Jake Bugg and his music until the cows come home, but let's not bother. At the end of the day, listening to good music is not an intellectual exercise. Let's leave the cerebral masturbation to others and simply enjoy what we have been given.

The recording is excellent. Even the many screaming adolescent girls in the audience couldn't make more than a token dent in it.

As always, samples are included in the comments to assist in deciding whether or not to download this.