THE first time I saw Jake Bugg a couple of years ago, my abiding thought afterwards was one of simply hoping he was true to his word.
In the anthemic Two Fingers, taken from his No1 platinum-selling eponymous album, the gritty 18-year-old from Nottingham, sang emphatically about being “here to stay”.
That night at the York Barbican, this indie-rock tyro with one of the most distinctive voices around, rattled off every song from that brilliant debut record, and left you thinking he was, indeed, potentially a genuine star in the making.
Bugg’s second album Shangri La has been less critically acclaimed but if this epic performance at the larger and more demanding First Direct Arena is anything to go by, he is, thankfully, definitely here to stay.
Armed with a vast array of different guitars, he effortlessly dovetailed hits from his seminal record, such as a rousing Seen It All, memorable Country Song and, of course, the quality Lightning Bolt as his denouement, with offerings from that successor, including the opener Messed Up Kids, and they did not once sound out of place.
Showing his range, Bugg slowed things down wonderfully for an emotive rendition of Broken and it is when he is playing solo and acoustically, as then, that Bob Dylan comparisons are most obvious.
Just as two years ago, there was hardly any repartee with the audience.
In fact, the only time he even moved – and, admittedly, barely – from his central stage position was to say a few words to a band member after Bugg had unusually mis-timed his entry during part of Two Fingers.
But that lack of banter is probably why he can shoehorn almost his entire catalogue into a stunning and relentless 80 minutes.
With such insightful lyrics for someone so young, and such a commanding voice, the fact he has yet to develop as a traditional showman is immaterial.
Gig date: October 19