When this year’s Glastonbury line-up was announced, the news that Jake Bugg was headlining the Other Stage above the likes of Pixies and Manic Street Preachers raised a few eyebrows. But when it came down to it, the Nottingham singer-songwriter had the opportunity to show everyone that he has what it takes to top the entire bill of a festival in the future. Tonight (Saturday 28) he proved he can do just that. But, how?
He’s got a transfixing presence
Sure, Bugg might not actually do a whole load on stage – tonight the most extreme he got was whipping off his jacket between songs – but he’s developed a presence that’s compelling in its minimalism. Even for the casual passersby, it should be enough to pull them in and convince them to stick around for the rest of the set.
His songs unite the audience
From the punked up anthemics of ‘The Ballad Of Mr Jones’ to the tender, arms-aloft sway of ‘Broken’, the singer has crafted an arsenal of big moments in his set that automatically brings a muddy field together. It’s a key quality that will make any Pyramid Stage headline set feel like a jubilant and triumphant experience while offering up plenty of classic festival moments.
Bugg’s got swagger
For most 20-year-olds, playing last on the Other Stage would be a daunting, nerve-wracking prospect. Not for Bugg though who took it all in his stride from the moment he swaggered on stage. He coolly switched from acoustic to electric and back again without so much as breaking a sweat, hitting a bum note or dropping a clumsy strum of his guitar. With such level-headedness at his fingertips, making the step up to outright headliner shouldn’t be too much of a terrifying feat.
He drew a bigger crowd than Metallica
Despite all the controversy surrounding their set, there’s still no arguing with the fact that Metallica are one of the biggest bands in the world. Yet Bugg attracted more people to watch him play when their sets clashed. If sheer footfall is anything to go by then it’s entirely plausible to see Nottingham’s biggest musical export nestling at the very top of the line-up.
He could fill the void left by a lack of big new British headliners
While there’s a crop of brilliant new British bands coming through the ranks right now, until they reach headliner status, there’s going to be a dearth of UK acts who haven’t already been round the block bringing our summer festivals to a close. With Bugg around, there’s the option to fly the flag for our amazing music scene without relying on ageing reformed bands. Bookers, take a punt in 2015.