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Nutini: a vintage year for Paisley's genius

Paolo Nutini

HEADLINE ACT: Paolo Nutini packs in some fantastic new songs as he attracts legions of his fans for his Scottish tour with a huge home crowd. Picture: PA
HEADLINE ACT: Paolo Nutini packs in some fantastic new songs as he attracts legions of his fans for his Scottish tour with a huge home crowd. Picture: PA

Paolo Nutini

Barrowland, Glasgow

Marianne Gunn

With the imminent release of his new album (Caustic Love, out on April 14), this might just be a vintage year for Paisley's most famous musical export. The 27-year-old is the headline act for Radio 1's Big Weekend in Glasgow (tickets are available from today, while he can also be seen in the capital, a few days later, playing the Usher Hall.

The Barrowland Ballroom has a special place in many musician's hearts, and Nutini certainly seemed thankful to be there. While in a home crowd, he also dedicated a few tracks to his family: Looking For Something for his mum and a little Italian number for his dad (Lucio Dalla's Caruso). Numpty (from his new album) was, cheekily, sung for a close friend.

Caustic Love is packed with some fantastic new songs, and Scream (Funk My Life Up) opened the almost two-hour set. "Let's get this show on the road!" was one of the few discernible mumbles, although Nutini's on-stage diction is, admittedly, much improved. Let Me Down Easy and Better Man, which are already getting considerable radio airplay, were well received while Diana brought a different, more mature feel, also showcasing vocal dexterity and his impressive upper range.

Swigging a few, ahem, apple juices from this point of the night (and clearly enjoying every minute of the music-making with his astonishing 10-piece band) new arrangements of more well-known tracks such as Growing Up had the sprung floor bouncing. One Day and Cherry Blossom were some final offerings from the new album, before a medley of greatest hits reached its pinnacle with a solo performance of Last Request.

Nutini has obviously been working on his showmanship, as well as his musicianship, and re-entering the stage for his encore with a Native American headdress was probably a taste of things to come over what will undoubtedly be a super-busy festival season for this very talented young man. The '80s synth version of Pencil Full Of Lead would have found a home in any John Hughes film while his reflective rendition of reggae-inspired 10/10 was testament to his reinvention.

You Me At Six

O2 Academy, Glasgow

Jonathan Geddes

If You Me At Six's albums have gradually moved musically towards straightforward rock, culminating in this year's chart-topping fourth effort Cavalier Youth, then their live gigs are more poppy than ever before. Here there was confetti dropped from above, a continual, throbbing lights display and numerous declarations of gratitude by energetic singer Josh Franceschi .

At one stage he stood triumphant, with a middle finger raised, like a comical parody of what youthful rebellion should be.

The group's heavily teenage fan base lapped it all up, and bounced away merrily all night while having a grand time, but although Franceschi worked hard his actual voice was surprisingly weak, rarely cutting loose to any real effect, and struggling to even be heard at times.

So it was with the tunes, too. The majority came from a template of angst-ridden anthems, building in blustery fashion to large choruses on both new (Fresh Start Fever) and old (Stay With Me) alike.

Their more earnest rock was comfortably worse than the pop punk of yore, offering up the plodding Cold Night and Wild Ones, an attempt at an epic with a title that could get them sued under the Trades Description Act, given that the tedious tune indicated debauchery on a scale of having food a day after the suggested expiry date.

There were some lively moments - the more skittish rhythms backdropping Loverboy, the pop pep of Underdog and a satisfyingly full-throated Bite My Tongue that roared in the encore. Yet the majority was predictable fare, done better elsewhere.

These songs will no doubt soundtrack many a teenager's heartbreak and despair, but rarely has pop's accompaniment to growing up sounded so uninteresting.

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