CONCERT REVIEW : Paolo Nutini -,Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh 31st August 2023

Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Centre has played host to a stellar line up of live performances this last week, rounding off on Thursday with Paisley-born, Paolo Nutini; the sold out show being his only Scottish gig of 2023.

Taking to the stage, Nutini looked relaxed, cool and perfectly at ease in front of a crowd. “Afterneath” kicked things off, the lead track from his latest offering, “Last Night In The Bittersweet”; his first release in 7 years. Nutini’s newer material clearly dominated; something that has been met with mixed reaction since his live return in 2022. “Through The Echoes”, “Lose It”, “Radio”, “Heart Filled Up”, “Scream (Funk My Life Up)”, “Acid Eyes” and “Radio” shaped the set, while fresh takes of earlier material also got an airing. “Let Me Down Easy” reworked now has a slick, funk vibe, “New Shoes” has a edge missing from the radio-friendly, pop smash hit of 2007, while a stripped back “Coming Up Easy” is almost gospel and signature anthem, “Candy” is now folk tainted food for the soul.

Nutini returned from the wilderness last May after a 7 year break with a string of live shows in intimate venues across The UK, including two sold out shows at The Corran Halls in Oban. Absence seems to have made hearts grow wildly fonder of Paolo with his first LP in 7 years hitting Number One, a debut, sold out TRNSMT headline slot and a tour that has stretched across the world, including 5 consecutive sold out shows at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro last December, an impressive first for an artist at the venue.

The break, albeit longer than probably even he intended, has not diminished Nutini as an artist, quite the opposite. Paolo is rejuvenated, focused; he has a passion for performing that is infectious, yet he exudes an air of modesty that assures you he isn’t taking a single second of this for granted.

A nod to fellow “buddy”, Gerry Rafferty came in the form of cover, “Stuck In The Middle With You” before Nutini and his band bowed out with freedom chant, “Iron Sky” and arena friendly anthem, “Shine A Light”.

However, Paolo wasn’t quite finished with Edinburgh; he paid tribute to Sixto Rodriguez, the recently passed singer / songwriter and personal “hero” of his, regaling fans with a story of receiving a DVD of Rodriguez on a train, “… singing one of MY songs … Fucking HELL!” Nutini then joked that he is frequently approached and asked, “Why do you never play that song? So I’m gonna play that song for you now”. And play THAT song, he did. Nutini’s breakout song, “Last Request” got an airing after more than a decade. It was the song everyone was praying for, but no-one dared dream would come.

A triumphant, visibly delighted Nutini bowed out amidst a wave if “I am not worthy” salutes and promises of new music and more gigs for 2024. If Thursday was our last night in the bittersweet, we already can’t wait for the next chapter.

Review by Siobhanne Beattie

Author: Siobhanne Beattie

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