At his concert at Al Majaz Auditorium on January 17, Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi seemed a bit bemused at the fact that he had sold out the gig.
He said on stage at the outdoor venue that he never thought he’d ever leave Scotland, let alone get 3,000 people to come see his first ever show in the UAE — and no one in the audience would have doubted this modesty.
The 23-year-old performer’s 2019 debut album, ‘Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent’, took the top spot on the UK Albums Chart for six weeks. His single ‘Someone You Loved’ hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. But there were no airs about Capaldi — he was goofy, funny and sweet in equal measure and this was especially evident on stage.
The concert started with the band entering while threatening red lights beamed out and a heavy foreboding tune played in the background. This couldn’t have been further from the musical vibe of the night and the crowd was in on the joke, laughing as Capaldi soon walked out looking as dangerous as a puppy.
He immediately kicked off with the soaring ‘Grace’, an upbeat track with an unforgettable chorus. Without stopping, he switched to the sombre and touching ‘Forever’ that showcased his deep, husky tone beautifully.
During a short pause, Capaldi revealed his other talent — making people laugh. He strutted across the stage like a seasoned stand-up comedian, poking fun at himself and apologising for how sweaty he would eventually get, and pointing out that the keyboard player was “a horrible person” — all of this eliciting roaring laughs from the audience.
The singer also took a moment to acknowledge that most of his music was “very, very sad”. While this is true, there is also a lot to be said about how Capaldi sings his sadness — it’s loud, fearless and cathartic.
As he belted out his latest track ‘Before You Go’, I imagined it would the perfect song to scream/cry/yell out to in your living room as you go through something difficult — a song to release an inner demon or two. It’s an undeniably sad song, but also one that could eventually heal you.
This touching connection between Capaldi’s heartfelt lyrics and bright folk melodies is possibly what helped fill up that auditorium with fans who beamed as they sang along to tunes about heartbreak break ups and love.
Earlier in the evening, the concert’s opening act had a similar effect. Dubai-based Scottish singer-songwriter Greg Pearson shone with his lovely steady voice, emotional lyrics and upbeat original tracks that were elevated by his guitar playing and the always enjoyable use of a looper pedal. While the audience might not have known the words to his songs, we were all swaying along and tapping our feet. Pearson’s covers of a couple of popular tracks helped get the crowd warmed up on the chilly night.
The cold weather was a helpful accessory to the evening, adding a lot of cosiness to the already intimate venue; it made it seem like a night out with friends at a local pub where the boy next door was singing his heart out. Capaldi’s final song for the night ‘Someone You Loved’ got the audience on their feet and singing that epic, anthemic chorus with all their might.
Hopefully Capaldi felt the love the UAE’s music lovers had for him and convinced him we’d need a repeat of this night soon.