Thinking back to all the gigs I have been to over the years, one comes to mind as having stood out amongst the others as my unforgettable gig. And that would be seeing Paolo Nutini play the O2 Arena in London, in January 2015.
I had been a fan of Paolo’s since the ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty Days’ and getting to see him perform live was so special, even more so as he had been away for a few years prior. In 2014, he had released his phenomenal third album ‘Caustic Love’ and was touring the UK with it. I had also been to see him at the Sheffield date, but nothing could have prepared me for how good the show would be in London.
The O2 arena, a 20,000 capacity venue, was totally packed. Before I could go and take my seat,
though, there had been a mix up at the Box Office. I had gone to collect my ticket, but it couldn’t be found. Staff were incredible and resolved the issue quickly, as I stood there with tears in my eyes because the show had started and I could actually hear my favourite singer’s voice through the walls.
I was desperate to get in there!
Once I was in the arena, I can’t say that the tears vanished. I was over the moon to be there, but Paolo’s songs are so emotional. It’s hard not to get a little teary-eyed listening to them (in a good way). Particular tear-jerkers were ‘Rewind’ and ‘Last Request.’
I was lucky enough to be seated in the VIP section. The view I had was directly opposite the stage and I honestly think I had the best seats in the entire house.
Of course, most songs were from the latest album, ‘Caustic Love;’ others were classics from previous albums. When he performed ‘No Other Way’, I remember physically sitting there and shaking my head in disbelief, because he was such an incredible live performer. His songs are amazing to listen to, but hearing them live just brought another dimension to them.
Since his first album, ‘These Streets,’ the Scottish-Italian star had evolved by miles as a musician. This was reflected in his performance, where reworked versions of ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’ and ‘New Shoes’ were played. He transformed the pop hits into an angsty, rock mash-up (“She just left me!”). It was very exciting to watch, but also a little unexpected.
During the show, Paolo Nutini’s voice was incredibly soulful, and his songs even more so. During
songs like ‘Iron Sky,’ Paolo exuded passion-everything from his voice to his body language. On stage, he really let his passion for the music to shine through and you could clearly see that he was giving it all he had. Coincidentally, it was his music video for ‘Iron Sky’ which prompted Adele to tweet that it was “the best thing [she] had seen in [her] life.”
Maya Jama has recently talked about Adele’s concert as being her Unforgettable Gig and she described it as being an “emotional rollercoaster.” Paolo Nutini’s gig could also, similarly, be described as an emotional rollercoaster because his songs are so varied. There are deeply personal songs like ‘Cherry Blossom’ which reference his relationship with his mother and then there are the more upbeat, fun songs like ‘Pencil Full of Lead’ which is about appreciating what you have in life. ‘Iron Sky’ is a very challenging and powerful song, politically charged and a social commentary, even. It is a rousing track and features a sample from Charlie Chaplin’s speech in ‘The Great Dictator.’
The O2 Arena London show had been sold out, and was the biggest headline show the artist had ever played in his career. It had originally been scheduled for October of the previous year but a bout of tonsillitis unfortunately meant cancellations had to take place. This didn’t stop loyal fans from turning up in their thousands to see the show on the new date.
Playing a gig of this scale would have been daunting for anyone and might have been the reason
behind why he didn’t speak much between songs. It could be put down to nerves but, boy, could he sing! He didn’t move around the stage much either, but that isn’t a criticism. It’s just a note on his personal style as an artist. His voice, on the hand, was very strong and, if nerves were involved, it didn’t show when he was singing at all. In fact, I suspect that Paolo Nutini finds his comfort when he is singing.
As part of the performance, visuals were pulled up onto the big screen behind the singer. A lot of the time these visuals were black and white. Lights were also used to signify important parts in songs. These were big, bold, flashing lights, but sometimes lot of small, delicate lights would fill the stage and give a magical feeling.
Paolo also covered MGMT’s ‘Time to Pretend’ with a slight twist in that I was brass-led. He played
the song in such a way that he claimed it as his own, inserting saxophones and heavy drum beats
into an otherwise very electro-pop song.
‘Candy’ was performed during the encore. It’s such a romantic song. Paolo crooned the lyrics in what felt like a really intimate setting-despite the enormous size of the audience. He really captured the audience with his voice and sheer talent.
The final song in the encore was ‘Last Request’ and, at the end of the two hour set, it was just Paolo and his guitar on stage. Like Candy, this slow song is incredibly romantic and was a nice way to set the tone and end the show in a mellow fashion.
20,000 people clapped and cheered once the gig was over and, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who went home with the biggest smile on my face that night. This gig was especially memorable for me because it ignited my love for live music.