Paolo Nutini

Paisley Abbey

Fiona McKinlay


EVERYONE in Paisley seems to have a tenuous link or a story to tell about Paolo Nutini. The population is possessively proud of him in a way that doesn’t happen for most popular recording artists and their hometowns. The energy that rippled through the abbey all night was electric, 550 captivated souls with their hearts swelling all at once.

As soon as the lights went down to signal the start of the show, everyone was on their feet and the aisle down the middle disappeared as people shuffled into an optimum viewing position. Nutini emerged alone with an acoustic guitar and played Aztec Camera’s Somewhere In My Heart before being joined by a 14-strong army of musicians and backing singers for a substantial set that clocked in around the 135-minute mark.

Nutini has an effortless greatness about him – a soulful and absolutely convincing voice that could probably sing your shopping list and make it an emotional epiphany. Twice in the abbey he and the band were absolutely spine-tinglingly brilliant: on a cover of Nat King Cole’s Nature Boy and on One Day from his 2014 album Caustic Love. The rest of the set was good, but those performances, the dynamics, the passion and the atmosphere were way beyond perfect.

There were many sentimental moments in the homecoming spectacle. Anything from his first album, These Streets, set off a special buzz, with the title track and Jenny Don’t Be Hasty featuring early on in the set. The singer paid tribute to Paisley poet Robert Tannahill, whose statue stands just outside, with a version of Will You Go Lassie Go, and to his late grandfather with a version of Guarda Che Luna, accompanied beautifully by trumpet.

Despite an occasional verge towards indulgence, the lengthy set was well-balanced, showing great artistry and range. It’s easy to see why the town is so proud of its boy.