A night of emotion, depth and triumph from Scotland’s finest.
Thursday evening marked the final gig of the year for me as I made my way through –8 degree weather to the Hydro to catch Paisley based legend Paolo Nutini for the second appearance of his five-night homecoming residency at Scotland’s largest indoor venue.
He kicked off his set, accompanied by a six-piece band, with the swirling opening track from Last Night in the Bittersweet, ‘Afterneath’. This is easily one of my top tracks from the new album because it samples my favourite line from my favourite movie, Tony Scott’s 1993 ‘True Romance’. The track is a cinematic opener; Paolo’s vocals floated all the way to the back of the venue and as Alabama’s voice repeated “you’re so cool” the crowd warmed up in anticipation for what was to come next.
Next, fans were treated to another new track, ‘Lose It’. Spoken word and a driving rhythm section take the wheel here, distorted vocals gradually build throughout the five-and-a-half-minute duration of the track as psychedelic lights flashed around the stage. After a quick greeting, Paolo jumped straight into ‘Scream (Funk My Life Up)’ which was met by a strong response from the crowd.
We heard four more tracks off the new album in succession. ‘Acid Eyes’ is a swirling, bittersweet love song backed by a simple thumping bassline that builds into an atmospheric, orchestral climax. The lyrics of this track are particularly strong and hearing him sing “my memories were melting in the sun” was hauntingly beautiful.
He seamlessly transitioned into the ethereal ‘Stranded Words (Interlude)’, beautiful poetic lyricism and soaring vocals rang out through the venue as fans soaked up every word. ‘Radio’ kept the same pace, hook-laden and anthemic it seems to have been written with stadium-sized crowds in mind. ‘Heart Filled Up’ slowly unravelled with soft drums and synth pads creating a psychedelic soundscape.
During ‘Better Man’ Paolo wore the emotion of every note on his face, it was a beautiful quiet moment watching the song resonate with the whole audience. The venue was filled with a notably more mature crowd of older fans; no shoving, mosh pits or drunken teenagers made the evening far more enjoyable.
Another hauntingly dark moment was ‘Through The Echoes’; Paolo thrives in an acoustic moment and his vocals were outstandingly raw, perfect to complement the bass and piano work of the song. Fan favourite ‘Coming Up Easy’ was another highlight as every single person in the crowd sang along to chants of “it was in love I was created and in love is how I hope I’ll die”.
Paolo’s energy for riff driven ‘Petrified in Love’ was infectious. We got a refreshing alternate version of his classic ‘Pencil Full of Lead’, fully repurposed to fit the updated set. Next was a mash-up of two old favourites; ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’ seamlessly transitioned into ‘New Shoes’, and we even got a wee cover of The Undertone’s ‘Teenage Kicks’ at the end.
The dreamy ‘Take Me Take Mine’ got the phone torches and lighters swaying in the air, again showcasing Paolo’s untouchable seductive vocals. Crowd pleaser ‘Candy’ proved to be a hit as expected, it’s a simple breezy country track that’s elevated to another level by his raggedly soulful voice.
As the set drew to a close, ‘Everywhere’ saw Paolo embrace his soul roots. The track is another favourite of mine from the new album, it’s easy to attach immense amounts of emotional meaning to the moving lyrics. Coming in at almost six minutes long it’s a slow burning, tear inducing song that builds into a powerful, burning crescendo. It’s difficult to put the feeling into words, but it was one of the most special gig moments of the year for me, and it was perfectly executed live.
As we wandered off stage, it didn’t take long for the ‘oh Paolo Nutini chants’ to ring out at the audience demanded an encore.
He wandered back on staged and thanked the audience for coming before jumping into the beautiful, gentle delivery of ‘Julianne’. Elsewhere was the burning ‘Iron Sky’ which felt particularly apt in our current political climate. Paolo’s gravelly voice was backed by trumpets; the whole thing marked a very powerful end to the evening.
Lastly, we were treated to the stadium-ready closer ‘Shine a Light’ and tender ‘Writer’, both taken from the new album. Paolo’s soft side was definitely shining through for the duration of the night, his pure passion, talent and emotion remains unmatched after all these years. Paolo is untouchable.