LIVE REVIEW Paolo Nutini, Summer in the City, Castlefield Bowl, Manchester, 02 July 2015
Friday 3rd July 2015 @ 16:29 by Max Wieland
Entertainment

After the hottest day Manchester has ever seen in the month of July, it was quite typical for a city famed for its rain as much as its music that the first of this summer’s outdoor Castlefield Bowl concerts threatened to be a complete washout.

PAOLO NUTINI: Opened the first of this year's Summer in the City concerts.

PAOLO NUTINI: Opened the first of this year’s Summer in the City concerts.

 

It was the Unsigned Saddleworth based band A Band Called Jack, that, unfortunately, bared the brunt of the heavy rainfall as they opened up early on, but as the crowds began to gather, so did the drier weather.

 

And by the time Paolo Nutini arrived on stage at 9pm for his 105-minute-set, the weather was a sea of calm compared to an energetic and boisterous crowd.

 

The Scottish-Italian singer-songwriter constantly darted from both sides of his intimate stage to engage with the near majority of what was a close to sell-out crowd.

 

Opening up with arguably his second most successful single, Scream (Funk My Life Up), his infectious energy was bettered only by a stunning nine-piece backing band complete with a brass section.

 

His trademark gravelly vocals were perhaps shown off best during his medley of early and arguably most popular hits, when he subtly blended together the reworked Jenny Don’t Be Hasty with New Shoes, much to the delight of the crowd.

 

But it was generally tracks from his new album Caustic Love that garnered the best reaction, with some eager female fans throwing underwear at Nutini during the atmospheric and soul infused Looking for Something, much to the amusement and confusion of the 28-year-old as he crouched down in vocal expression.

 

New Fan Favourite

 

His voice throughout was on note no matter the song, whether it was loud, hush, energetic or completely raw and strained with emotion such as during These Streets, bringing a few smiles from the pop come rock singer as the crowd bellowed back word after word.

 

New fan favourite Iron Sky was ultimately the standout moment of the evening thanks to the spine-tingling inclusion of that now iconic speech made by Charlie Chaplin in his 1940 film The Great Dictator.

 

The political anthem quickly soars and was completely mesmerising as the Chaplin speech played out in projection behind a basking Nutini. To put it simply, it’s a track that everyone should have the privilege of seeing live.

 

It’s a slow burner, much like most of his new tracks, but it lets older songs such as the bouncing Pencil Full of Lead shine on their own, which instead saw a mass dance-a-thon thanks to the big band treatment it was given.

SUMMER IN THE CITY: Paolo Nutini live in concert at Castlefield Bowl.

SUMMER IN THE CITY: Paolo Nutini live in concert at Castlefield Bowl.

 

But in an encore that was generally stripped back and somewhat relaxed, an electric cover of MGMT’s Time To Pretend saw hundreds of the crowd come together on a sea of shoulders, crying out in elation before Nutini finished on a crowd sing-a-long of his most successful single yet, Last Request.

 

Alone with his acoustic guitar and with nearly 8,000 people singing along to his every word, it was clear to see that he was loving every minute of it, finishing an encore that saw him play songs across all three of his albums.

 

The night might have threatened to be a washout, but with the messy haired frontman in such striking form, he instead left thousands of gig-goers with a much brighter day on what was a truly memorable opening night to this year’s Summer in the City Festival.

Review by Max Wieland.