Frontiers - Frontiers, Jake Bugg, Nottingham Bodega Social 22nd June 28/06/2011 Live Review 201128 Jun 2011
'Introducing' gigs in their nature are typically nights to avoid, usually containing a line-up consisting of a headliner with new-found and short-lived label backing and local bands that will ensure a half-decent turnout. Fortunately Dean Jackson of BBC Radio Nottingham's 'The Beat', is a man free of agenda and one of the East Midlands' foremost promoters of new music, and so his Glastonbury warm-up show was a welcome exception to the rule, and an indication that Nottingham might finally, FINALLY, have serious hopes of making a tangible impact on the wider music scene.
It may seem laughable in 2011 to tag phrases such as 'incendiary' to an artist firmly entrenched in the Dylan style of songwriting but 17 year old Jake Bugg is a rather extraordinary talent, and whilst his subject matter may have more than a hint of repetition he has already amassed more hooks than most solo artists manage in an entire career. His voice, aged well beyond his years, bares a striking resemblance to The Tallest Man On Earth, and his set, ably backed by a perfectly complementary but entirely supplementary rhythm section, offers the suggestion of something rather special with a wealth of soaring country-rock meanderings. 'Saffron' in particular, shows someone who is already a master of his craft at such a tender age.
Only a few years older, Frontiers are full of a similar raw promise. Buoyed by a wealth of confidence after a successful tour supporting We Are Scientists their hyperactive stage presence is an extension of their driving sound, which is akin to White Lies or first album Editors injected with the swirling effects-laden bombast of Swervedriver. Like headliners Spotlight Kid they are hampered by a poor sound-level mix which leaves their guitars, the integral element of Frontiers' fabric, sounding slightly impotent, but they fight through this with vigour and resilience.
At a contrast to their support, Spotlight Kid are a band honed by years of experience, consisting of former members of Model Morning and Six By Seven. According to the compSre of their BBC1 broadcasted appearance at Glastonbury Spotlight Kid are the 'Foo Fighters' to Six By Seven's 'Nirvana'', but despite sharing a similar love of all things shoegaze Spotlight Kid have evolved past the rigidity of their predecessors, settling on a sound that floats close to the bubbling soundscapes of A Sunny Day In Glasgow whilst still giving considerable nods to My Bloody Valentine et al, not least in the extended walls of noise that bring several tracks to a close. Outside of them the twin vocals of Rob McCleary and Katty Heath are given an atypical focus in the mix, but as Spotlight Kid give much more focus to the process of actually writing a song, not to mention putting on a show, than many of their shoegazing compatriots this is rarely a problem.
Whether any of the nights triumvirate make significant steps outside of the city remains to be seen, but all three offer more than enough to suggest they could be at the forefront of a revival for one of the UK music scenes' forgotten cities.