Paolo Nutini - The Sanctuary, Birmingham
James Blunt has been decidedly (and thankfully) absent from the music scene during 2006 after conquering the charts last year. It seems the major labels have jumped at the chance to fill the Blunt-sized hole and have pushed male singer/songwriters into the limelight accompanied by a lot of buzz. Well, you can keep your James Morrisons and the like. Paolo Nutini is my particular favourite.
Preceded by a substantial support slot of psychedelic acoustic-led pop from Tiny Dancers, a casually-dressed Paolo hit the stage with a minimum of fuss and, before long, launched into album track Rewind. No doubt that this rich bittersweet ballad will join Last Request and Jenny Don't Be Hasty, and become a huge hit single with its catchy melody and simply irresistable vocal at its core. While his Glaswegian accent seemed to marr his audience interaction between songs to the extent nobody I spoke to could understand him (maybe he's just a mumbler in general), his own brand of radio-friendly fodder made up for this slight blip. The singles, including the album title track These Streets, were confidently performed and came to life in a live forum, so much so that it's hard to digest that the stunning voice belongs to a 19-year-old. Whether delivering swaggering blues-stomp rock or soulful after-dinner ballads, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout. Throw in a couple of covers (including the token rendition of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy), and the night was his for the taking.
Original or life-altering is not what Nutini is about, although he could certainly prove to be in ten years time. For a 19-year-old, shows and material like this are a starting point any artist would desire. As for that voice, let's hope it's like a fine wine and just gets better and better!