PAOLO NUTINI- Portland Arms, Cambridge 25/5/06

I never found someone that has an accent like The Proclaimers more sexy than this young man from Paisley in Scotland. The plus-one seems quite upset, in fact, in the face of such a handsome chap, and somewhat jealously claims that the mostly female audience are only there to see him because they are on heat. Admittedly, the thirty-something in front of us may well be shamelessly dribbling on Mr Nutini's ankles but that's beside the point. Because this hardworking new sign to Atlantic Records is, first and foremost, much more than a pretty face, who so does not deserve the comparisons to James Cnut being lazily thrown his way. Yes, there is an occasional threat of mellow sap in places this evening but it is only of a mild flavour, overshadowed by what this man is really trying to do, and not pretending to do otherwise, which is write good acoustic soul music. Without a hint of a squawk. And this I find a total breath of fresh air.

Because, where his predecessors rely heavily on empty sentiment, what the lad sings, he means. Perhaps still bordering more on hug-in-a-mug than poetically deep and meaningful at this point in his career, his performance yet remains honest and touching enough to be believable but is uncomplicated enough to stick in your head for days to follow (highlights being the more upbeat tracks "Jenny, don't be hasty", "New Shoes" and "Alloway Grove"), and the strong vocal beyond his nineteen years, coupled with a sweet and slightly shy stage presence which appealed to my less cynical side, put simply, made for a very enjoyable evening. The plus-one said afterwards that he was playing on the girl vote. I ignored him at this point. Because anyone that can take me to a place far away from Cambridge, even it is only in my head, deserves a big smackeroo. And I will gladly join the queue. Very nice indeed.

Many thanks to Bev Allen at Hyperlaunch for getting us through the door.

Anna C