By Wal Reid
Artist: Paolo Nutini
Date / Venue: Monday April 6th, The Powerstation, Auckland
Its obvious singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini was born in the wrong time. The energetic Scottish singer whose gravelly voice seems more suited to Motown soul than modern day blues, tends to make one think that maybe he was born in the wrong era. The casual attired Nutini looked at ease in front of the vocal Auckland crowd, at times a little too relaxed for his own good, however this was only good ju-ju of what was about to come.
Nutini sublime in entry, casually strolling in with his 8 piece ensemble... you just knew it was going to be one hell of a night of music, the anticipation electric. Unassuming in white tee and jeans, Nutini couldn't have done anything wrong. Shouts of "We love you" or "Caledonia" intermittently rang out as the lanky Scots took to the stage cradling the mic with eyes closed.
The recognisable siren-like intro of Scream (Funk My Life Up) got proceedings underway as the band revved into life, haven't seen that big a line-up on stage since Stevie Wonder slayed it at Vector a few years back. Nutini's innocuous vocal style is deadly accurate as he massaged the crowd with the soulful Let Me Down Easy from last year's album Caustic Love, his thick as lard Scottish accent permeating Coming Up Easy, a song he once credited to his struggles with marijuana & break ups.
Nutini seems to have hit his zenith, with a string of albums and singles behind him it's hard to believe he's only 28. His maturity belying his youthful appearance, Nutini has an uncanny knack for producing emotive driven songs that stick to you, words that affect. You really feel the dark places he draws upon as he deeply engages the audience, such a rare talent.
If you were ever going to have a band to back you then this is the group to have. They killed it. Solo-Paolo was pretty cool but the horn, sax and the backing vocalist added to the moment as the Paolo hit-machine rolled on into the night. The reworked slower start of Jenny reignited the full house while quieter songsBetter Man, Iron Sky and Diana ushered a quiet hush across the room allowing Nutini to patiently weave his magic.
Highlights? A dime a dozen. MGMT's hit Time To Pretend a surprise inclusion was wonderfully given the acoustic makeover, the hypnotic hit Candy complete with crowd vocals and the ‘so quiet you could hear a pin drop' of Last Request rounded off the night on a high, one man and his guitar equated to smiles on ‘a million faces'.
Hopefully his first visit to NZ won't be his last. Sure he mumbled like a bastard (in true Scottish fashion) and he did say ‘cin cin' a lot before taking a drink, however I felt sorry for the guys behind me shouting out‘Caledonia' all night only to be put out.. bugger, next time aye?