The final night of Paolo Nutini‘s UK tour at the Phones 4U Arena in Manchester on November 6th was packed full of excited fans hoping for a good night. This came after many of his shows on the tour in the previous week were postponed due to the 27-year-old suffering from severe tonsillitis. Luckily, all traces of the illness seemed to have disappeared the moment he entered the stage to greet tens of thousands of screaming fans. While waiting for the performance to begin, the stage seemed to be relatively unexciting, with a black sheet backdrop, a few instruments and a microphone stand only illuminated by a dull, blue light. However, from the moment he and his large team of musicians began the chords of “Scream (Funk My Life Up),” the stage lit up with his voice. This beautifully performed rendition of a recent single from his newest album, Caustic Love, allowed him to warm up the crowd and his voice before taking on some of the increasingly challenging songs that were to follow.
He followed this song with “Let Me Down Easy” and “Coming Up Easy,” which he executed with beautiful precision. Every note was hit and surpassed; he certainly managed to display how much he has evolved over the recent years to form a singer that is committed to performing music he is proud of. His newest release, “One Day,” was to follow, which demonstrated the vocal range he has acquired, perfected, and showed off particularly in his new album; his first for five years. His almost angelic vocals managed to capture and stun thousands of people into awestruck silence. He then preceded to play “Pencil Full Of Lead,” and the difference from the sound of the single when it was first released compared to now is almost unbelievable. Many could argue that this was the song that gained him the public’s attention, yet his voice is not even comparable; to say his endeavour in his career is admirable would be an understatement, because his voice is now more than worthy of his fame.
Between these songs, his interaction with the crowd was not forced, and proved that however much we were adoring and enjoying his performance, he was enjoying it a thousand times more, and he managed to sing with a smile on his face for most of the show. The man who stood before us now had matured and evolved over his time in the spotlight into a singer truly deserving of his success and ever increasing talent; even when reaching almost operatic pitches, he made it seem effortless.
He left the stage after the song “Iron Sky,” which perfectly encapsulated the talent and ability that has gained him such a large following globally. This song had quite cinematic, emotive undertones about change and political views. It is rare to find such a successful man who chooses to use his place in the public domain to convey such strong political ideas; the song featured a sample from Charlie Chaplin‘s speech in his Hitler-lampooning 1940s film, The Great Dictator. This speech included the phrase “You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men!” which aims to urge his fans to not lose their sight of value of voting and becoming politically informed, because as a democracy we should be in control of our own futures.
Nutini finished his set with an acoustic version of “Last Request,” after saying that he wanted to “end with the best.” His rendition of this popular song had such purity and emotion that made it atmospheric yet intimate; he was right to believe that this was the perfect way to end the night. A standing ovation then engulfed the whole arena and adoration filled the air. Paolo Nutini was evidently very grateful for the reaction, and after minutes of walking around the stage, thanking the crowd, he fell to his knees. After standing up, he just about managed to stutter out the words “It’s been real!” And it certainly had been!