Paolo Nutini at the O2 ArenaCultureMusicLive music
Paolo Nutini is rather quiet – at least when it comes to talking. He much rather plays music instead, and fills the O2 Arena for a good two hours with his repertoire, spanning songs from all his three albums. With this concert, the Scottish-Italian singer/songwriter makes up for a show postponed in October, his loyal fans still almost filling the 20,000-seat arena.
Backed by an eight-headed brass band and supported by a beautiful light show, Nutini explores a range from earlier and more upbeat pop songs such as Alloway Grove to mature rock and soul tracks such as Diana. The show opens with Scream (Funk My Life Up), the first track on his new album. Upon its release last April, Caustic Love topped the UK chart and has since gained platinum status.
At first hardly recognisable, the crowd favourite soon presents itself as a medley of Jenny Don’t Be Hasty and New Shoes, the latter having lost much of its former light-heartedness. The tunes here are stronger, more mature, but less danceable at the same time. These transformations are exemplary for his artistry; Nutini redefines himself without deciding on a genre. What stays, however, is his slightly raspy and unique voice. Putting all his emotion into the performance, he delivers a wonderful Better Man.
Nutini has his mixed audience swaying and singing along, but it’s not until the second half that the air is filled with real excitement. Picking up speed, the crowd follows his invitation to dance to a Pencil Full of Lead. These Streets, which tells the story of how he left home, is fittingly accompanied by his childhood memories in the forms of numerous images on the screen behind him. It’s these familiar tunes that shake up the crowd, lifting them off their seats.
Iron Sky marks the most powerful track of the evening. It is wonderfully supported by strong, high-pitched female backing vocals, leading to a dense atmosphere. In an excerpt from The Great Dictator, incorporated into the song and speaking from the screen, Charlie Chaplin reminds us that we “the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful”.
After an energetic two-hour show, the final act consists of only him and his guitar. He answers the Last Request of many a viewer, almost crying the words, begging his lost love for a final night together. Hopefully this is not the last night he will sing again in London.
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Watch the video for Let Me Down Easy here: