Gig review: Paolo Nutini, Usher Hall

Paolo Nutini. Picture: PA
Paolo Nutini. Picture: PA
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While the majority who poured into the Usher Hall last night to see the son of a Glasgow chip-shop owner strut his stuff were largely women, to see those in their 30s, 40s, and 50s simmering with anticipation is testament to Paolo Nutini’s ability to meld his broad influences (soul, pop, reggae, rock) into one, multi-generational cohesive package.

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Nutini’s fans, however, don’t necessarily want to be challenged.

Grand, gravelly vocalist that he is, the 27-year-old’s lack of onstage charisma is overlooked in favour of his boyish good looks. He rarely engaged with his audience, either, and when he did speak it was virtually impossible to understand what he was saying.

But no-one cared. People come to hear him sing – not dance, tell jokes, or prance about in garish costumes.

Aided by his brass-backed eight-piece band, the Paisley singer’s soulful edge occasionally gave way to Simon & Garfunkel-esque acoustica, lazy Caribbean vibes of the Bob Marley persuasion, and the odd bit of psych-rock more commonly associated with Primal Scream. He surprised a few with some downbeat, reworked versions of his earlier material, too.

With little to look at other than the Scot-Italian’s tousle-haired head for the most part, some 3D-projected visuals (think James Bond movie credits) managed to make new tunes such as Cherry Blossom bloom into something truly epic. The likes of Funky Cigarette rolled things along nicely following Nutini’s rare attempt at showmanship. Jumping across the stage, he slid along the floor on his knees before friction took hold, sending him tumbling.

It was probably the most spontaneous part of the evening, and the audience reacted. It went some way to justifying the £35+ ticket price, but for the fans, just being there was enough.