Paolo Nutini headlines Summer in the City at Castlefield Bowl: Review
Manchester Evening News
July 2, 2015
Summer in the City arrived with perfect timing tonight, riding the crest of a heatwave that has seen Manchester swelter in 30-degree heat this week.
Staging any outdoor event in our famously unpredictable climes is always a gamble but it was one that paid off as thousands of fans watched Paolo Nutini kick off the four-date string of gigs under blue skies over Castlefield Bowl.
The show had threatened to be a washout as the heavens opened along with the gates this afternoon, with unsigned local act A Band Called Jack bearing the brunt of the bad weather as they opened the show.
But every last trace of the clouds had been chased away by the time main support act Lianne La Havas took to the stage.
Prince is a fan of the London songstress and it was easy to see why as she kicked off with the sultry, soulful Unstoppable, the first single from her soon-to-be released second album Blood.
Teasing newer material alongside breakout hits Is Your Love Big Enough and Forget, she left the crowd in no doubt they had seen a true star in the making and one who’ll surely be back here as a headliner before long.
As Paolo Nutini followed her on stage, it was hard to believe it’s been nearly 10 years since the Scottish-Italian singer-songwriter exploded into the pop charts with debut album These Streets in 2006.
Still just 28, he’s now matured into a bona fide arena artist with a subtly evolving style that has won him both chart success and critical acclaim with number one follow-ups Sunny Side Up and Caustic Love.
The bigger and bolder sound of the latter was brought to life with the help of a nine piece band, complete with a brass section, as he opened with the infectious Scream (Funk My Life Up).
Those gravelly vocals possess an impressive power live, raw and strained with emotion but always note perfect.
Many of the set’s highlights came from his newer material – with the epic Iron Sky and Cherry Blossom providing two of the pinnacle moments.
But older classics proved just as popular as they were revisited and in some cases reworked, including a rocked up rendition of New Shoes, which he segued into during Jenny Don’t Be Hasty.
Pencil Full of Lead was also given the big band treatment – as was Paolo himself as he donned a Sinatra-style fedora thrown on stage by a fan.
But he knew when to strip it back too, letting his songwriting speak for itself and the Scottish lilt shine through in his voice in an acoustic version of These Streets and later Last Request, which he closed his encore with after an anthemic cover of MGMT’s Time To Pretend.
They were two of the quietest numbers of the night but they got some of the loudest cheers.
With the sun now set on the first night of Summer In The City, Paolo Nutini will be a tough act to follow and that challenge goes to recently reunited duo Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, who play the second night tomorrow.
The Charlatans will headline on Saturday July 4, joined by hotly tipped Stockport group Blossoms, while Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds arrive in the city a week later on July 11 with support from Johnny Marr and Black Rivers – the new band from former Doves brothers Andy and Jez Williams.
Photos by Joel Goodman