Paolo Nutini at Alexandra Palace
The name “Paolo Nutini” is instantly recognisable, but it has been more of a quietly-dormant name in recent hiatus years. After releasing his first record since 2014, the Scottish singer-songwriter takes chart-topping Last Night in the Bittersweet on tour, a signal to all that he is firmly back with a loud, rocky bang. Filling London’s Alexandra Palace with hypnotic visuals and songs both old and new for nearly two hours, it’s an energetic, ambitious and jam-packed evening.
The artist’s latest release has taken a rockier edge, and this is channelled unapologetically throughout the night right from the get-go with new tracks Afterneath and Lose It. An extended set allows for integrating a wealth of new material, and Nutini is equally in no rush to play a “greatest hits” set. Some (namely one) are securely, intentionally locked away – probably for another decade – whilst other familiar classics have been reinvented. Jenny Don’t Be Hasty medleyed with Teenage Kicks and New Shoes is almost unrecognisable with a borderline post-punk makeover. It’s a bold but commendable move, a screaming message that Nutini will not be typecast by his former self.
There are some slight misses where the high octane is followed almost immediately by a mellow section, or where the vocals risk being drowned out altogether by the band’s all-in instrumental action. However, it makes the softer moments feel more special as they get to showcase the performer’s pitch-perfect soulful vocals in a different spotlight. This certainly comes through in a solo acoustic of One Day, as well as Better Man and new fan-favourite Through the Echoes, the latter already sounding cosy and familiar with its own tuneful crowd echo despite only being released in July.
For the most part, the musician calculatingly flits between past and present: renditions of Scream (Funk My Life Up), Candy and Pencil Full of Lead are satisfying, but it’s refreshing to see new music like Acid Eyes well-received by the audience too. The encore continues to strike this balance, featuring a politically-charged Iron Sky followed by new Shine a Light and concluding with another solo.
Oozing with unassuming stage presence whilst effortlessly and constantly swapping instruments, Nutini comfortably commands the stage he has been away from for so long. Though not overly chatty, he has a lot to update his fans on through music; it may not be what they expected, but they can anticipate this singer to be one who’s not quietening down again anytime soon.
Photo: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Paolo Nutini’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Acid Eyes here: