Review: Paolo Nutini rouses crowd at Lincoln Theater
Paolo Nutini’s infectious pop, rock and soul grooves got a sold-out crowd at the Lincoln Theater on their feet for his entire set on Sept. 17.
Opening act Phox, a sextet from Wisconsin, played a mix of alternative music led by Monica Martin, a singer with a delicate, fluid falsetto. The band’s vocalist, keyboard player and lead guitarist displayed great harmony. Phox played slow, powerful songs that were beautiful in their simplicity.
When Paolo Nutini took the stage, he roused the crowd, opening with “Scream (Funk My Life Up),” an energetic dose of soul. He sang with charisma, swagger and intense passion. His raspy voice fit perfectly with each song. Nutini channeled the raw energy of a rock singer and combined it with the subject matter and stylings of soul and pop, creating a sound all his own.
Nutini’s band enriched his diverse musical style, consisting of exuberant, lively rock and soul songs tempered by slower, heartfelt pop ballads. A trumpeter and saxophonist added soul, while a keyboardist and backing singer gave a gospel flair to the pop songs.
The Scottish singer-songwriter performed “Someone Like You,” a sincere, melodious ballad complemented by subtle harmony with his drummer and rhythm guitarist. The song transitioned perfectly in to “Better Man,” during which he strummed an acoustic guitar and evoked ‘70s blue-eyed soul.
He reworked the sound of “Pencil Full of Lead,” a syncopated track from his second album. The recorded version is heavily influenced by the New Orleans brass-band style, whereas the live version sounds like pop with a rock edge.
Nothing was going to bring down Nutini’s unstoppable energy on the intense breakdown of the bridge, “Best of all, I got my baby.”
Nutini used a sample of Charlie Chaplin’s final speech from “The Great Dictator” in a standout performance of “Iron Sky.” The third single off of his most recent album, “Caustic Love,” allowed him to unleash his inner Roger Daltrey. The prominent sample was a fitting musical accompaniment to the lyrics “I will rise.”
Nutini closed the show with an acoustic rendition of “Last Request,” a sultry, moving plea for love from his first album. After he sung the lyrics, “I just want you closer, is that alright,” a crowd member responded with a resounding “Yes!” He encouraged the crowd to sing along with a friendly nod.
After his four-song encore, Nutini took a Scottish flag from fans who had been enthusiastically waving it throughout his set. He donned it as a cape and exited stage left.