Jake Bugg played the 100 Club on Wednesday night for music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins, and didn’t look like he was enjoying it much. 

On Wednesday night, Jake Bugg played the 100 Club on Oxford Street in aid of music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins. For the second installment of Get Loud, the organisation lined up a series of performers at various locations around the capital, including Jackmaster, Ben UFO, Anne-Marie, Youngr, Level 42 and 67. The event was intended to raise funds for the charity and raise awareness of their work.

Jake Bugg’s performance also had the added incentive of being in support of Grenfell Tower and those affected. Nordoff Robbins have been offering free music therapy outside the Notting Hill Methodist Church to those affected by the disaster.

Julie Whelan, chief executive of Nordoff Robbins, said: “We know how powerful our music therapy can be – it can help some of the most vulnerable and isolated people communicate and connect with the world around them. For so many people we work with, music therapy is simply a lifeline. However, we receive no government funding, which is why campaigns like Get Loud are so crucial in helping us raise awareness and ensuring that we can reach all those who need us.”

Although he praised the charity often throughout his gig, it was a shame that Jake Bugg gave such a lacklustre performance. Although you most likely only know the first album, the eponymous Jake Bugg, the 23 year old has just released his fourth studio album. Released on 1 September, Hearts that Strain was recorded in Nashville alongside the band who accompanied no less a legend than Elvis Presley.

Perhaps it’s cruel to instantly write off the sister of a Disney star-turned-bad-girl-turned-good-girl, but roping in Noah Cyrus for the track Waiting smells of a change in tack for the young performer once touted as the prodigal son of Noel and Liam Gallagher. Indeed, the album is more folky than Bugg’s previous records, and has less of the catchy tunes the likes of which made his first album so successful (see Two Fingers). 

Although his latest outing does include some stunning tracks including opening track How Soon the Dawn, the album is more folky, more pared-back and more deep South USA than his previous bids. It’s a return to form after the odd musical spasm that was On My One, but it’s not quite Jake Bugg. Co-written with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, the album is a delicate swan song for Tennessee train journeys and heartbreak-nursing whiskey sessions. Hearts that Strain isn’t bad, it’s just not good.

It was a shame that Bugg couldn’t have looked a little happier to be at the 100 Club on Wednesday evening, if he had he might have convinced more people that his new sound was his own. Instead, more than one person was heard muttering the question, “when’s he going to play Two Fingers”. He eventually capitulated to pressure when one fan, presumably, heckled him to play it.

Lightning Bolt was a strong finale to the performance, but it didn’t detract from the sighs that came every time Bugg said he was going to “play a couple of new ones.” My guest went out for a cigarette at that point, there’s only so much slow, heart-wrenching folk misery you can take before you want to dance again. Broken was good, but slowed down so far that you couldn’t even sway to it.

Lack of stage presence aside, there’s no denying that Jake Bugg has a stunning set of vocal chords, his sound is unique and inimitable. I just wish he looked a bit happier about it.

Find out more about Nordoff Robbins and Get Loud here.

★★☆☆☆