Looking tanned and relaxed at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre on Friday night, Paolo Nutini gave an emotional performance as he sang his heart out for the audience — which included his mum.
The Scottish singer hasn’t performed in the city since 2011 when he was touring for his second album Sunny Side Up. Now he’s on tour with his third, Caustic Love. It’s had mixed reviews but that didn’t matter on Friday night. The crowd were loving the lad from Paisley.
For such a small man, Nutini sent shockwaves through the crowd with his powerful voice born of pain and longing. He reminded me of a young Al Green or Otis Redding. But, I must admit, without their incredible charisma and stage presence. Nutini does well to have a full band behind him. There were nine others on the stage, giving a great big-band feel. The backing singer with her operatic tones was fantastic and brought another explosive element to the songs.
It was a night of ups and downs both vocally and atmospherically. While his soulful rendition of songs from the first (These Streets) and second album were enough to keep his fans entertained, he glazed over Jenny Don’t Be Hasty and New Shoes, mashing them together into one song.
The highlight of the night for me was Nutini’s rearrangement of Pencil Full of Lead. It was magnetic and got the crowd energised. But he took it right down on the next song, a ballad that quickly banished the buzz.
Nutini knows he’s a great singer and uses his voice well, but it feels like he’s waiting for something. He’s not sure where he stands musically, and gives us soul, funk and pop. His voice is suited to soul and maybe that’s why he shies away from his immensely popular early tracks.
On Friday night we all knew what we wanted to hear, Nutini’s, arguably most famous song, Last Request. And he reluctantly obliged us at the end of the night, mixing the song until it was unrecognisable and letting the audience sing it for themselves. It was a bit disappointing. Surely any artist must be grateful for a song that catapults them into the limelight and makes them who they are in the eyes of fans. Do you think Kylie Minogue likes singing I Should Be So Lucky? You’re damn right she does, because she knows that’s the song that helped make her.
For someone who seems so humble on stage, he must have a huge ego. But the man can sing. I only hope he finds a song he enjoys singing. Maybe he needs to revisit those streets that first gave him his lust for music.