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Jake Bugg: The Maze (secret gig)

November 9. 2013

He was never going to do a Take That or a One Direction song but the tongue-in-cheek requests shouted out from the crowd of around 100 people when asked "Right, what songs are we playing then?" reflected the good humour in the room.
Indeed it was the most we've seen Jake Bugg smile during a gig, this one a secret show at The Maze in Mansfield Road where those lucky enough to win the free tickets through his website, could get the 19-year-old to do their favourites from his No. 1 self-titled debut album.
There were a few songs from his follow-up album, Shangri La, due out a week today, including the opener, There's A Beast And We All Feed It, a blast of lively country-meets-rockabilly.
As he sauntered on to the small stage at the venue where he'd played one of his first gigs in the city four years ago (yes, aged just 15) there were chants of "you Pies", from fellow Notts County fans, mixed confusingly with opposing calls of "you Reds".
Bugg dodged a bra thrown at him but, if reluctantly, accepted and downed a shot handed to him by a fan.
Trouble Town was the first singalong of many, each a hit single. Two Fingers included a stamping beat from those near the front, Broken's howling chorus was turned in to a football chant, likewise Slumville Sunrise, although they'd not quite got to grips with the verses on new single.
The skiffle/garage energy of that and his first single from Shangri La, What Doesn't Kill You, suggest that the album is harder than the first but songs played tonight, the folk balled Pine Trees and the countryfied love song You And Me, a highlight of the new album, showed otherwise.
Older numbers Someone Told Me, Simple As This and Saffron were also requested, suggesting not everyone just wanted to party but were keen to hear his musicianship. "Go on JB!" someone bellowed, encouragingly. Not that he needs it; every vocal was as strong as you'd expect from a teenager who has played hundreds of shows in the UK, Europe, the US and Japan.
He'd been back in Nottingham, only his fourth return this year, since Friday night. Less than 12 hours later, straight after this 5pm show, he was off again, this time to continue on his sold-out UK tour in Doncaster.
"This is one of the first places I played when I started out... thanks for coming out," he said before ripping into set closer Lightning Bolt, leaving the first verse to the crowd who were drowning out his own voice.
A film camera was trained on him throughout; a documentary about his journey from Clifton to California, where he recorded the new album with Rick Rubin, is due next year. As is a book of images from renowned music photographer Kevin Westenberg, who was tucked at the back of the stage; he's been following our most successful musician this century all over the world.
"It'll be nice to be back at The Maze," he said before the show.
"It was one of the first places I played and there weren't many people there. The promoter gave me a tenner for doing it which was nice because I didn't have the bus fare to get back home."
He added: "A lot of venues wouldn't let me play because I was 15. It's one of the reasons we chose the Maze for this show. We aren't doing Nottingham on this tour so I thought I'd do a little gig for anyone that wants to come along. It'll be good fun; an intimidate show, letting people shout out what songs they want me to play."
Bugg headlined Splendour at Wollaton Park in July in front of 17,000 people. His next show will be at the city's largest indoor venue; the 10,000 capacity Capital FM Arena, on February 20. He'll be the first Notts musician to headline a show there.
"I never thought I'd be playing the Arena. Obviously you dream of it but you don't think it will happen. I saw the Kings of Leon there and remembering how many people were there... it's crazy."
He was looking tired having recently awoken after a late night.
"I got in last night and went round my cousin Scott's and had a few cans. Then I came back to hotel. I'm just a bit tired in general because it's been pretty full on.

"But that's what it's all about; you've just got to get on with it."

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