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LEXICON OF LOVE
:: Aberfeldy :: Paolo Nutini ::
29 November 2006 / Academy 1 / Manchester
By Dave Adair

“Wow, this is good. Is this Paolo, is he on??”

These were either the utterances of a besotted fan blinded by the lure of the swooning young Paisley born headliner, or a backhanded compliment to the quirky pop craftsmanship and versatility of the Edinburgh quintet of ABERFELDY. Riley Briggs and Co. are making their way through their apt Mamas & The Papas meets The Beach Boys opener ‘Summers Gone’. Rustic, organ sounds rub against a coated folk gloss of Briggs’ warming vocals, bringing contrast and depth right to the fore. Another offering from their 2004 debut album ‘Young Forever’, features slower, higher pitched singing and ‘Vegetarian Restaurant’, ensures a wistful and warm outlook. This album is one of the mysteries of 2004, never really receiving the attention it deserved, yet it has indubitably helped them earn some dates with The Beautiful South and of course this current tour.

A retrospective set shows a laudable determination to remind people that just because something happened two years ago, it doesn’t mean that it’s not captivating and worthy of attention right here, right now. The reception and reaction received from a healthy gathering confirms this point. A more streamlined pop/Americana approach concealed in the tracks from ‘Do Whatever Turns You On’ (their second album), is illuminated by aching romance of ‘Hypnotised’. This is displayed with a tingling range and the glowing backing of Ruth Barrie. Also, the playful lash-out at retro mongers in the form of ‘1970s’, shows that their tunefulness is still growing. Riley’s sharp humour is sparser than usual tonight, but it still helps him make that connection. The lexicon of amour that is ‘Love Is An Arrow’, represents Aberfeldy’s biggest success so far and starts to easily melt hearts. However, it is the set closer ‘Heliopolis By Night’ that provides the lasting memory. Even though this quirky tale of Alien/God/Sun abduction has been toned down, it still strikes an adventurous chord with onlookers. Tonight, this quintet shows a mainstream crowd that there is a much better alternative to The Magic Numbers.

A trio of backing musos stride into view and the chorus of Bibo Bandits ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ booms out of the PA. Accompanied by around 1,800 voices, it signals the gleeful entrance of the prim Paisley man of the moment, Mr Paolo Nutini. Playing the part of a popstar, he leaves the instrumental element to the others and rushes into the hurried and painstaking ‘Alloway Grove’. Singing to the floor and straining as though his heart his popping, his animated nature makes up for the authenticity lost by this crafted muso, who abandones his guitar for a large part of the evening. Harnessing the pull of his yearning debut album ‘These Streets’, Paolo turns to the blues for ‘New Shoes’, a theme that permeates his music.

The jazzy/blues vocal cry and gritty percussion on his new song ‘January’, is welcomed for the fact that it shows the trappings of fame and success have not blinkered Paolo’s worried and soulful outlook. The middle of the set suddenly reaches a lofty nadir, through the back-to-back utilisation of two powerhouse singles ‘Last Request’ and ‘These Streets’. Paolo grabs his acoustic guitar for the latter number, as though it is a long lost friend and inspires some choral crowd backing. Having produced a surprisingly vibrant and powerful set, non album track ‘55/1’ provides some refreshing acoustic/folk reflection. With the job easily done in the main set, the luxury of being able to experiment in the encore pays off. The hollow and funky ‘Sugarmind’ and a passionate ‘Rainbows’ close the night, by reminding everyone that this young songster is still growing in many ways.




Resources:
Aberfeldy Web
Paulo Nutino

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