(St. Andrews Hall, Detroit, MI - August 1st, 2009)
Paolo Nutini, a Scottish singer/songwriter from Paisley, can give you one of two shows - he can either be his usual self, where he comes across as seemingly drunk, high, talking mixed, slurred gibberish to the audience, and blatantly unaware of anything save for his extraordinary vocal tones; or he can be caught in a studio's spot lights, perched atop a stool, strumming acoustic-style, his voice pitch perfect, his eyes not prone to rolling in the back of his head!
Tonight, yep, you guessed it, we got (as most people seem to also relate to along the length of this tour thus far) the former! Which is not to say that there is anything less lacking in the show, far, far from it, but you do just keep your fingers crossed that he doesn't at some stage barrel off into the crowd, or worse still, fall flat out into the pointy drum kit!
Arriving on stage at 9.50pm, the small, un-air conditioned venue packed to the seams, standing room only, the band take the stage ahead of Nutini. And then, as he makes his way to the mic, head and shoulders hunched forward (a theme for the night), the crowd find their voices of praise and delight. Kicking off with the upbeat 'New Shoes,' halfway through the song and his face is streaming with sweat. 'High Hopes,' a new song from 'Sunny Side Up' is next, followed by 'Alloway Grove,' and 'Pencil Full Of Lead.'
But, it's when he comes up for air, thanking the crowd, graciously accepting their prolonged applause, that the quietly-beautiful, 'Loving You' is brought to the fore - and becomes one of the top 3 songs sung live that night. The small, tiny-small stage fits the 7 musicians in a very cramped manner for sure, but they avoid each other masterfully throughout the set. "Thank you," speaks Nutini, on a rare moment of chat with his fans, "does anyone know Little Walter? No, well, this is his song," and we then get 'Mellow Down Easy' [which was actually written by Willie Dixon, but what the hey!]
'Last Request,' a song amazingly released some three years ago now is next, and simply features Paolo and the keyboardist, together with the harmonies of the crowd. A guitar solo next for 'These Streets,' lit by the solo spot is good, but it's when the band joins in the song really takes off. The very folk-infused 'Growing Up' is next and has people swaying back and forth as if they were on a ship. And after some completely inaudible speech from Nutini, we get the below-par 'Chamber Music' - although it does feature a triple guitar duel midway for kicks!
Hit new single 'Candy' has everyone alive and in love with him again though and is followed by the rockabilly influenced 'Funky Cigarette.' "I hope you enjoy this next song," he then pleads, hands clasped together as if in prayer, and soon we are knee deep in 'Coming Up Easy.' Then, to the range tones of his 'Hi Di Hi's, it runs flawlessly straight into a fantastic, spot on cover of the old Coasters song, 'Down In Mexico.'
"We've got a few more if you want to hear them," Nutini asks the crowd, and so backed by some funky horns, the ska-influenced '10/10' is next and totally rocks the house. The slow, No Other Way' is next which ends the main portion of the performance, but they quickly come back on (Nutini's neck now wrapped in a Celtic FC scarf) and give us both 'Tricks Of The Trade' (another slow, and short guitar solo moment for him), and the bluesy 'SleepwalKing.'
And finally, bringing the passionate, uplifting and sweaty musical journey to an end, Nutini announces the final song of the night - and it wasn't what the crowd were either expecting, wanting, or baying for, trust me! Instead of his monster hit 'Rewind' we got 'Jenny Don't Be Hasty' from his debut album. Ending with a thank you, a bow of the head, he wipes his face on the white towel, throws it into the audience, waves goodnight, and leaves every single person in the crowd wondering just why 'Rewind' hadn't been sung! Shame.
Review and Photos by: Russell A. Trunk