Paolo Nutini LIVE @ Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield – 4.5 / 5

Where did all the soul go? Music these days, especially mainstream music seems devoid of soul and emotion. The raw energy and tenacity that makes us shiver, moves us, makes us happy and make us cry, a distant memory.This is why Paolo Nutini is so important.

Back on tour after a break between his new release Caustic Love and second album Sunny Side Up, it’s evident that he has spent that time, looking inwards and changing his sound. The new album has more depth and emphasis. Gone are the poppy horn melodies and jazz and funky sing-a-longs, instead replaced by a more mature, fuller sound, multi-layered. The result is nuanced and fill of raw emotion.

Tonight’s set at Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena was crowd-pleasing, but stayed true to the new style of song writing he has adapted to. Re-workings of ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’, ‘Pencil Full Of Lead’ and ‘New Shoes’, still had the hooks that made us love them but also the edge and finesse of his latest release.

Songs from Caustic Love populated the set. ‘Better Man’ was the romantic ode to a lover, ‘Looking For Something’ a dedication to his mother and the powerhouse ballad that is ‘Iron Sky’ stole the show. The finale of the set, had the crowd concede to Goosebumps. A visual of Charlie Chaplin was projected onto the screens behind the band as a quote from one of his films, The Great Dictator, with its famous line “you are not machine men, with machine minds” was played over the music as Paolo crooned the lyrics “over love, over hate, through this iron sky thats fast becoming our minds” and the band played the final chorus, to be met with rupturing applause.

Vocally magnificent, Nutini is the perfect front man. It would be hard to recall any concert in a long time where an artist so masterfully commands the whole crowd. His vocals and lyrics create such an energy that it is hard even to react to them. It was so deeply moving, that for most of the gig, the entire crowd stood there motionless, so immersed, that penchants of gigs such as dancing, singing and arm waving transcended into irrelevance.

One of the best albums of the year, matched with a flawless performance, if you’re looking for soul, this charismatic front man has just brought soul and romance back into live performance.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Words: Luke Smith