40 minutes before Paolo Nutini is due on stage and there is still a sizeable queue outside the o2 Academy in Birmingham. This is a sold out show and the main room is heaving with people trying to get wherever they possibly can to see the show. It’s been 5 years since Paolo has been on stage and the screams from the crowd are deafening before he even reaches the stage. The people have been preparing themselves for this night and they’re going to make the most of it. ‘Aftermath‘ gives us a dramatic entrance and the ‘Lose It‘ lets Paolo show the diversity within his voice. As he changes his voice for the slightly heavier songs, we’re given a Guns N Roses feel in the vocals whilst the tracking remains very Paolo.
‘Funk (My Life Up)‘ means business and we immediately know what we’re in for from both the performer and the audience. This 22 song setlist means business and it’s whilst the majority of the show is a lot more rock ‘n’ than I was expecting, we still get some slower tracks like ‘Better Man‘ & the beginning of ‘Heart Filled Up‘. ‘Heart Filled Up‘ sounds as though we’re watching him mix a track on stage as it gradually becomes louder and faster.
This is a payday Friday night in Birmingham so the venue has a rowdy crowd in tonight and from where I was standing, it feels quite volatile. From people talking over the music to others pushing their way through the sea of people to get closer to the front, it feels as though Mr Nutini is struggling to keep the majority of this crowds attention. That is until ‘One Day‘. From the first note, he calls everyone back to attention and they’re eating out the palm of his hand.
‘Coming Up Easy‘ receives an incredible noise once we hit the chorus. This has to be one of the loudest shows of the year; Birmingham are not messing about tonight. Just when you think the room couldn’t make any more noise, ‘Through The Echoes‘ proves you wrong. Every song gets louder and louder and though Paolo may have been out of the game for a little while, he still knows what his dedicated fan base wants and he’s certainly going to give it to them. We get reimagined versions of his classics such as ‘Pencil Full of Lead‘, ‘Jenny, Don’t Be Hasty‘ & ‘New Shoes‘, the latter two of which he pushed together with a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks‘ creating a new song which this brummy bunch are clearly here for. As he plays his hits from 2007-2009, it feels as though he’s trying to step away from that sound and be more rock which we’re definitely not complaining about.
The sound is one thing, but the production levels on this tour is another. Visuals are projected on stage for the entire show, covering band, instruments and band drops and it give a music video feel to the entire night. ‘Take Me Take Mine‘ mixes coloured smoke projections and a synth sound, giving the show a 70’s psychedelic feel and as we head into ‘Candy‘, the atmosphere in the room rises and we’re out of the trip and back to reality.
Whilst the night carries on without a hitch and it seems like most people are having a good time, it’s hard to ignore how much of the night was ruined by a small percentage of the audience. Tall people pushing in, having drinks unapologetically spilt down you and heaven forbid you needed to go to the loo! Paolo has sh*t to do when he’s on stage and he doesn’t waste time meaning we get the most of this 90+ minute show but it’s a challenge to stick it out to the end with the room feeling like it’s over capacity.