Paolo Nutini, Glasgow Summer Sessions, review: Cheeky charms make up for lack of hula hoops

It seems apparent that the live stage is the best context in which to hear him

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The Independent Culture

“I'm sorry guys, my dog ate my hula hoop,” growls Paolo Nutini in the gruff Paisley drawl which belies the versatility of his singing voice. It’s a reference to his support act at this first of two festival-scaled Glasgow Summer Sessions concerts on a public park in the suburbs of the city, with Calvin Harris due to headline the following day - not widely-tipped Glasgow shoegazers Tuff Love or Nutini’s dependably raucous Dundonian compatriots The View, but rather Grace Jones, an unexpected festival announcement which knocks Mumford & Sons at Reading and Leeds into the shade.

Nutini’s a popular and versatile international artist with a feverish following on home territory – all 35,000 tickets for the event were gone in advance – but it perhaps went without saying that nothing he could have done would have competed with Jones, all 67 well-preserved years of her, hula-hooping in the Glasgow drizzle to the immaculate sex-funk grind of ‘Slave to the Rhythm’. Yet Nutini has charms of his own, most of them of a somewhat cheekier variety. “This song is about very fast women,” he winks, raising a full glass of red before a dramatically retooled medley of ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’ paired with ‘New Shoes’.

Infused with a classicist’s vinyl-only sensibility, the opening ‘Scream (Funk My Life Up)’ is bolstered from its limp recorded version by a thundering disco baseline. There is a swooning old-time musical sensibility to ‘One Day’, a frantic exuberance to ‘Pencil Full of Lead’, and a lovely, thinly-veiled political coda to ‘Iron Sky’ as Charlie Chaplin’s speech from ‘The Great Dictator’ rings out over a fusillade of blood-red fireworks. As he encores with a creditable version of Ben E King’s ‘Stand By Me’, it seems apparent that the live stage is the best context in which to hear Nutini. Preferably in Glasgow.