There is a certain school of thought at the moment that is concerned by the speed at which record companies are thrusting talent into the media spotlight. Primarily, because it doesn’t give them the time to mature as artists or as individuals. Paolo Nutini is a perfect example why this line of reasoning is becoming more prevalent.
The problem becomes even more marked when you compare him with his support act for the evening, Sheffield’s Tiny Dancers. With their dynamic stage presence, poncho-clad lead singer, and sprightly stage furniture – bright pink lampshade anyone? – they really managed to get the crowd going. Pausing mid-song to take photos of the audience make Biggles-style goggles, had even the most stone-faced attendees smiling.
When Nutini came on the contrast couldn’t have been more noticeable. It’s an ask to get involved when Nutini didn’t seem to want to be here, spending most of his time shoe gazing. If you were in the first few rows it probably felt as though you had your own private show.
For the remainder of the 1800 or so people in the Astoria it was a distinctly underwhelming performance. To the audience’s credit though, there was no negative response. If anything, sympathy ruled the evening.
Last Request and Jenny Don’t Be Hasty along with the rest of These Streets, were well received. An unexpected highlight came in the form of a cover of Lovin’ Spoonful’s What a Day for a Daydream, which he carried extremely well.
Strangely enough, the last track was the only one where he actually looked out at the audience for the entire time. A lot of artists are understandably nervous about performing their own compositions in public and build up a mental wall, but for the difference to be that marked is unusual. Nutini attempted to rock it up in a few places and be a little more animated, but his uninspiring performance made it even more apparent that he just doesn’t seem confident on stage.
This is neither the time nor the place for a full-on exercise in amateur psychology, but Nutini just doesnt seem to be comfortable in his own skin. Until that changes, which it may in time, you’re better off buying the album and staying at home. Or if you do go, please don’t bottle him off. Give the poor lad a hug. At least he’s not James Blunt.