Paolo Nutini Edinburgh review: Paolo Nutini on top form as he returns to Scotland on tour

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The in-demand singer was on top form as he returned to his homeland after touring in Europe this summer.

Scottish singer Paolo Nutini delighted crowds at a sold-out, homecoming gig at the Royal Highland Centre, hot on the heels of the Connect festival.

Before Nutini came on, the audience were treated to sets from Inhaler, fronted by the son of U2 singer Bono, and Lizzie Reid. The Paisley-born pop sensation kicked off the set with opener Afterneath which had a slightly ominous feel and rattling guitar feedback. Post-punk track Lose It followed next with its pounding bass guitar. It was my first time at a Paolo Nutini gig and this wasn't what I expected. It was better.

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Chatting warmly with the crowd, he told fans he hoped they loved the new songs as much as the old ones and was met with a massive cheer. From there, Nutini was full of surprises. He gave some older favourites a twist. Upbeat hit New Shoes was delivered with a more lo-fi, almost grungy style. Later, jaunty folk pop anthem Pencil Full of Lead could have been the easy crowdpleaser. But the artist switched it up completely with a slower version. Scream (Funk My Life Up) also had a more lo-fi feel to it.

Paolo Nutini played at Edinburgh's Royal Highland Centre. Photo: Hans-Peter van VelthovenPaolo Nutini played at Edinburgh's Royal Highland Centre. Photo: Hans-Peter van Velthoven
Paolo Nutini played at Edinburgh's Royal Highland Centre. Photo: Hans-Peter van Velthoven

He had plenty of cheeky banter and bopped around the stage with easy, humble charm, always eager to praise his band who performed a very slick set. Last year he released his fourth studio album, Last Night in the Bittersweet, which became his third consecutive UK number one. It came after critically acclaimed albums These Streets and Sunny Side Up won him his place in the pop world.

New songs are more stylistically diverse. He's a confident, assured songwriting talent and it’s a joy to see him breaking new ground. When he sang love songs Through The Echoes and Heart Filled Up, it was clear that the new material has just as much emotional depth. That raw, heart-on-the-sleeve quality fans have come to love him for shone through.

Slower songs like Coming Up Easy and Take Me Take Mine went down a treat. Candy really got everyone singing along. But angst-ridden Iron Sky during the encore set was the highlight. That raspy, soulful vocal is like no other and the power carried out across the show grounds and into the skyline. Black and white lighting and stunning special effects paired with smoke billowing from the stage added extra atmosphere to the charged, soulful cries from the man himself. He went down and shook hands with lucky fans in front row for this one, making the zeitgeist song even more poignant.

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Lighting and effects were mesmerising throughout, shifting between psychedelic and a more retro vibe reminiscent of an old television set before you turned it off. There were many touches of humour too. During a cover of Stealers Wheel’s Stuck in the Middle With You, an image on screen showed triple Paolo. Nutini took delight in telling the crowd that the song was written by two guys from Paisley.

Paolo Nutini sings to crowds during his Edinburgh gig. Photo: Hans-Peter van VelthovenPaolo Nutini sings to crowds during his Edinburgh gig. Photo: Hans-Peter van Velthoven
Paolo Nutini sings to crowds during his Edinburgh gig. Photo: Hans-Peter van Velthoven

Closing with the apt Last Request, Nutini paid tribute to Sixto Rodriguez, who died in August age 81. He had become friends with the Searching for Sugar Man singer and was overwhelmed when he received a recording in the mail of Rodriguez playing Nutini’s songs on a train. A heartfelt, acoustic song from just Nutini in a single spotlight was the perfect ending to an outstanding gig.

I wasn’t familiar with the new songs but now I can't wait to get a copy of the album.

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