Paolo Nutini at Marlay Park – Review
Women want him, men want to be him. He just wants to party with thirty five thousand fans on a rare but warm summer’s eve in Dublin. He makes it look so easy, this guy from the chip shop who clearly doesn’t think he’s Elvis. He’s Paolo Giovanni Nutini from Paisley. He’s gonna funk your life up.
His opener turns Marlay Park into a seedy, smoky jazz club with a gospel girl’s soaring ‘Hallelujahs’ as ‘Funk Your Life Up’ is unleashed. White t shirt, old jeans, that just-fell-out-of-bed look for ‘Coming Up Easy’. That’s the essence of a summer track, with hazy, lazy vibes, backed up with cheeky brass paving the percussion path. “It was in love I was created and in love is how I hope I die” is the high point. The girls go mad. The boyfriend brigade stand silently still behind them wishing they were Paolo. The wishing continues into ‘Alloway Grove’. Naked girls pressed against unfamiliar walls, sweeter than apples proves to be the boyfriend’s number one song so far. “However much you use me baby, come on use me more“ is Paolo’s sultry invitation proving too much for some hormone happy couples in the crowd. It’s only three songs in – get a room!
‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’ injects Nutini’s rock’n’roll eloquence. His band, The Vipers, lash out the electric guitars. Donny Little flawlessly delivers the licks. Nutini is happy to indulge in the edgier elements of the song. Introducing ‘Better Man’, Paolo says he wrote it around his efforts not to be hopeless. A hopeless hero, a lonesome troubadour singing about his soulmate. Hard to believe it’s only been around since Caustic Love.”You’ll either love me or you’ll hate me” he croons. I think we know the answer to that one, my friend.
The extensive setlist touches off all his albums, the more contemporary highlights coming from Caustic Love with ‘Diana’ and the outstanding ‘Iron Sky’, a dramatic social overview of the world, laced with warnings and menacing messages about our mechanical evolution away from ourselves. “You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men!” screams Charlie Chaplin from The Great Dictator video insert. ”You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful”. This track demonstrates Paolo’s intelligent observation, his ability to amplify and create way beyond the mainstream radio playlist he often gets relegated into.
‘Looking For Something’ is dedicated to Mrs. Linda Nutini, Paolo’s mam. A soulful, swaying, earnest ode to this lady who’s clearly done a great job. “The guardian of my karma, keep my feet on Terra firmer”. I’d say she takes no messin’. Wise and worldly she taught her son, “hearts can’t break themselves / Looking for something, leaving with nothing / But souls can’t save themselves / Learning to fly”.
‘Cherry Blossom’ takes the gig into pure electric guitar plec heaven with edgy, dark, extended and kinda Kings of Leon leanings.
Imelda May, who was massively impressive earlier, comes out to duet with Paolo for an endearing version of ‘Stand By Me’. Gracious and gorgeous, she’s such a darling. Before ending the night, a few oldies are revisited. ‘Candy’ is the last one with The Vipers. Lonesome guitar chords wrap up the sentiment of promise with a subtle country and western twang.
The crowd sing it back, even the boyfriends are at it now. The band exit the stage. It’s just Paolo, his guitar and this field full of fans for the finale. ‘Last Request’ sounds like a cliche, but it works. The crowd love it, Paolo loves it. He finishes the night with an unexpected dive onto the barrier, making a few dreams come true for the fangirls.
He’s done well for himself, this boy who works down the chip shop in Paisley.
Review by Ciara Sheahan