- 03 Sep 23
Soul Man Plugs In
Sometimes, the odd time, a performer comes along who has it all to such an extent that you wonder if they're privy to God's phone number. Paolo Nutini is one such star. He's got a voice that sounds like a dram of some thirty-year old batch of scotch might sound if it could sing, and he's also ridiculously attractive. If I was that good looking, I'd give up working and go around the world getting in sexy adventures.
There's a huge, Billie Eilish-sized crowd on this delightfully warm Saturday night as Nutini makes good use of the screens, creating a futuristic, Zoo-TV on the fritz atmosphere, juxtaposed with our man on an old rotary phone telling us how January made him shiver during the bass heavy opening of 'Aftermath' from 2022's great Last Night In The Bittersweet album.
'Lose it' and a very groovy 'Scream (Funk My Life Up)' are divided with a cheery "Hello Electric Picnic" with Johnny Handsome giving it some useful electric piano in the latter. "Thank you, Oh yeah, OH YEAH! It must be done," he purrs as he takes a generous slurp out of a pint of stout. 'Radio' continues in a similar vein. What would you call this sound? Industrial soul, is that a thing? (It is now). 'Acid Eyes' and a marvellous 'Through The Echoes' showcase pipes of such undeniable admirability, chances are they'd win the gold medal at a plumbing trade show, especially as he stretches out "straight to yo-ou" in 'Echoes' and creates an unlikely intimacy in a big field.
Whatever about 'New Shoes' and 'Take Me Take Mine', which sounded great to this fan's ears, the big surprises were the complete rearrangements of 'Pencil Full Of Lead' (with a sidestep into 'Dayman' from Always Sunny In Philadelphia, although a much hipper and younger colleague had to point this out) and 'Candy' from 2009's million-seller Sunny Side Up. At first, I was grumbling as their more familiar sound was absent but they won me over as the songs progressed, and the method behind the madness of Nutini's rethink became apparent. Were some fans a bit put out by this? Not around me at least, if the singing voices were anything to go by.
The undeniable highlight was 'Iron Sky' where he sounded like James Carr fronting Massive Attack and 'Shine A Light' was a good way to finish, complete with an electro-freak out at the end that hit you square in the chest.
"This means the fucking world to us," Nutini smiled. Taking his older sound and putting it through the blender to come up with something new is a brave move for a headlining set, but he pulled it off. He really is unfairly blessed.