At the Civic Theatre, the young British folk-rock singer needed a hug. 

Jake Bugg by Patrick Ainsworth photo
Jake Bugg at the Civic, by Patrick Ainsworth

British guitarist and singer Jake Bugg performed at The Civic Theatre on Thursday to promote his recently released sophomore album titled Shangri La. Bugg’s career has taken off in the past few years, beginning with his first major performance at the Glastonbury Festival in 2011. The 19-year-old gained international attention for his first self-titled album after winning the BRIT Award, earning nominations for the Mercury award and the title of Best New Artist from the Q Awards. Critics and fans have praised Bugg, comparing him with music legends such as Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.  

The night of the performance, Bugg and his band looked like some sort of tragedy had befallen them shortly before showtime. Neither  Bugg, his bassist or drummer cracked a single smile or showed the slightest bit of enthusiasm during their hour-long performance. Even the screaming crowd of teenage girls in the front row cheering his name and dancing along to his music seemed to make Bugg recoil like a shy little boy. To his credit, his music sounded exactly like his recording which is a testament to his ability as a musician, but Bugg has a long way to come as an entertainer. 

 Songs with a more somber tone such as “Pine Trees” were the highlights of his performance because no one would expect anything more than his moody persona for such a song. His hit songs “Lighting Bolt” and “There’s a Beast and We All Feed it” suffered though, as they required more depth then the lifelessness he showed. 

Bugg's detachment seemed insincere. After all, it seems odd that a 19-year old on a world tour wouldn’t be able to muster any kind of life in his eyes as he plays to foreign fans. If that truly was all the expressiveness he had, it's sad that experiencing success on this level seems to move him so little.

Jake Bugg by Patrick Ainsworth photoJake Bugg, by Patrick Ainsworth