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Review: Paolo Nutini - Last Night in the Bittersweet Tour - Alexandra Palace, 26/10/2022

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

With a pint on his piano and his trademark shaggy looks (he also looks like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo), Paolo Nutini’s presence filled Alexandra Palace to rapturous applause from the audience. After a seven-year hiatus it’s fair to say he’s been missed and with his latest project, Last Night in The Bittersweet becoming his third number-one album, anticipation was high to say the least. In fact, there was a palpable excitement in the air.

Opening with Afterneath and Lose It, the night started with a bang followed by Scream and Acid Eyes. At this point of the show the crowd were beginning to warm up, and it was great to see songs off the new album being met so favourably. However, with a set as long as this (22 songs, at my count) and with Paolo’s decision to avoid making it a greatest hits show, there were moments where the energy and crowd were almost lost. The tempo would drop off after crowd pleasers and at some points it felt like I was watching him perform at Durham University SU rather than Ally Pally, such was the volume of the stereotypically middle class, home-counties-to-the-world ‘rah’ accents. The set list needs revision if Paolo is to take this tour to the next level. He needs to find a way to structure the show where the slower, less raucous songs can be fully appreciated rather than talked over, or revert to show full of blockbusters and save the softer songs for smaller venues - à la Camden Roundhouse.

Despite this, Paolo’s voice sounded as good as ever with his usual deep and gravelly tones. He also flexed his creativity bringing refreshing new versions of old classics such as, Jenny Don’t Be Hasty, Pencil Full of Lead and New Shoes. Refreshing as it was, however, there did seem to be some disappointment that fans weren’t treated to the classics that had made them fall in love with the Scotsman, probably a result of trying to stay away from the same-old hits a bit too much. Regardless, his stage presence was something to behold. Flowing from instrument to instrument with unassuming brilliance, remaining understated but belting out songs with emotion written all over his body, casually sipping on pints and talking to the crowd with few words and in finite moments (with almost everyone around me trying to work out what he’d just said). It’s clear he still knows how to work a crowd.

At the end of the day, Paolo Nutini could not really do any wrong. It had been so long since anyone had seen him that the crowd were desperate just to get a sight of him. Although some people will have left disappointed, I’m not sure there will be much moaning after all we’re just happy to have him back. The show did fail to tick all the boxes but, as returns often are, it was a great moment especially after seven year. With as many fan-favourite tunes as he has it would be hard to actually put together a bad show. The psychedelic back drops, his Scottish ramblings and good music meant that on the most part it was an enjoyable night with a few flat spots.

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