LIVE: Paolo Nutini – Odyssey Arena, Belfast

paolo-nutini-uk-tourIt is rather difficult to convey how overwhelmingly excellent it was to experience Paolo Nutini live at the Odyssey.

Promoting his new album Caustic Love, the Scottish Singer-songwriter played to a huge, excitable crowd on Sunday. The whole show from beginning to end was truly a work of art, and the atmosphere was electric.

Kicking off the show were musical trio Vaults. Fronted by a strong lead female singer and two male synthesiser and piano players, Vaults set was echoing, passionate and otherworldly with rousing choruses and dance beats. The lead singer sounded a bit like Bijork, Florence Welch and Kate Bush, with her strong yet ethereal  vocals, which were accompanied by a collection of keyboards, synthesisers and guitars. The trio were very well received by the enthusiastic crowd and set the tone perfectly for Paolo’s entrance.

At 8.45pm, just as the Odyssey had filled up, the lights suddenly went out, prompting a roar of anticipation from the audience and the “bus talk” interlude from Nutini’s album Caustic Love began playing. The band took to the stage, followed by Nutini himself, who casually strolled on stage as though oblivious to the excitable crowd, grabbed the microphone and began singing the funk/soul track “Scream (Funk My Life Up)” followed by the bluesy and soulfully sung song “Let Me Down Easy”. After performing “Coming up Easy” Nutini delighted the audience by saying “Yes Belfast! I’ve been sent here! How’re you doing?”  in his signature sultry scottish drawl.

After grabbing a guitar and performing “Alloway Grove”, he began singing a funked up version of “Jenny Don’t be Hasty” which featured piano and short guitar riffs and then transitioned smoothly into “New Shoes”. Accompanied by a full band, complete with trumpets, a piano, drums, a bass and a tambourine, as well as very powerful backing singers, Nutini proved to be exceptional live.

The album Caustic Love showcases an evolved musical style and sound, with heavy inspiration apparent from genres like jazz, blues and funk, and the concert was themed on the sixties sound in his album. Projections of pyschadelic sixties patterns, artsy smoky black and white close ups of Nutini singing were prevalent throughout, and many images of sixties styled beauties accompanied close up shots of Nutini’s face. Discussing his tonsillitus, Nutini then segued his monologue into a powerful rendition of “Looking for Something”  accompanied by strong bass and piano playing.

Building an easy rapport with his adoring audience, Nutini talked about how fantastic it was to be back in Belfast and reminisced about his last show here, a show he played in Auntie Annnies, noting the discernible change by saying “This is a bit of a difference!” to lots of laughter. He then broke into “Better Man”, followed by a slow, soulful version of “These Streets”.

paolo-nutini-caustic-love-album-artNew track “Diana” was accompanied by stylish James Bond-esque projections of sixties cabaret dancers, which was immediately followed by “Cherry Blossom“, another rousing, sexy, soulful sixties tune from Caustic Love. The crowd, already very excitable, became half frenzied when Paolo started walking amongst them during a stylish rendition of “Pencil Full of Lead” and Nutini, ever the showman, danced and jumped along with them.

“No Other Way”, the romantic and heartfelt track from Sunny Side Up followed, and the set finished with an incredible rendition of “Iron Sky”. Nutini exited the stage, leading to an eruption of cheering, stomping and calling for an encore, which he happily obliged.

Playing an acoustic version of “Tricks of the Trade” followed by a cover of “Time to Pretend” by MGMT, Nutini once again showed off not only his incredible voice but his musical diversity. For his penultimate song, Paolo played “Candy” to raucous cheers and claps. The show was finished with an acoustic version of “Last Request” with only Nutini, his guitar and two backup singers performing one his most famous and treasured songs.

The entire Odyssey filled up with the voices of the audience joining in to “Last Request” and Nutini, bowled over with this reception, got to his knees and saluted the crowd. It was an impeccable ending to one of the most fantastic shows I have ever witnessed. Una Mackle, GiggingNI.com