“There must be something in the water” and it’s not just Whiskey –Lewis Capaldi and Nina Nesbitt stun the Leeds O2 Academy.
Recent history has shown that the young gravelly voiced males with guitars do well on their first few outings. Paulo Nutini, James Bay,Jack Savoretti, George Ezra, Hozier to name just a few that have made it from the small pubs and clubs, to the Academy circuit around the UK. They struggle though with the next few albums as the attention drifts to the newer versions of themselves, a few make it out of the ranks to the Arenas like George Ezra but tonight, I’m in Leeds to catch the latest “Sound of 2018” – Lewis Capaldi, who has created a stir with only a handful of online tracks to his name.
First though it’s another Scottish pure vocal talent NinaNesbitt to warm up the crowd and having seen her stun a Cornbury Festival crowd earlier this year I knew what was in store.
Thankfully she has lost that long-haired peroxide image and looks a more natural beauty wearing some jeans that are just hanging together with threads. Tonight, was a stripped back show and with only acoustic guitar or piano backing there is really nowhere to hide, it didn’t faze her in the slightest, her intro to The Best You Had was a comedic monologue of a love lost to a “better” woman, Nesbitt was received very warmly by this young student crowd.
She could have potentially headlined herself and as a piano version of Britney Spears Toxic complete with everyone joining in on the chorus is played, I don’t quite understand why she has limited herself to a half hour support slot.
It’s a great ticket – 3 artists for about £15, (unfortunately I missed Billy Lockett due to traffic), but sadly even in these cash strapped times, it is not a sell-out as the upstairs at the Academy isn’t open tonight. However, this is a much bigger venue to The Wardrobe or The Oporto which is where I saw Lewis Capaldi last year. He remembers this too “I’ve got lots of great memories of Leeds, mainly nights getting shitfaced, but it’s always been a great place for me”, he is quick to acknowledge his fast rise up the ranks even though he has yet to release a full album.
After the Mama Mia intro, the band open with Grace and Capaldi appears to be nervously pacing the floor whilst blasting out some early vocals that sound like he’s been backstage gargling on Glenfiddich.
“I’m going to play you some new songs, hope you don’t think they’re too depressing and shit” Capaldi jokes in his broad Scottish accent. Such is his slightly sweary lad charm that he already has this crowd listening intently, and as he picks up a guitar and belts out the clear graveltoned vocal of Mercy any apprehension that he wasn’t going to deliver is washed away with the sound-waves coming from the stage.
His carefree charm and unkempt style sets him apart from the more carefully coiffured crew, a very down to earth attitude with no gimmicks – just let the voice win through and after every song he still seems surprised that people are really enjoying themselves.
Capaldi calls Nina Nesbitt back on stage for Rush which didn’t disappoint, and he saved his best for last with Bruises as an encore. Even though he first explained to everyone that he would just be walking off and walking back on again.
It feels like Lewis Capaldi has borrowed some of the best bits of Paulo Nutini and Jack Savoretti, glued them together and then added his own dishevelled and humorous identity to it. He could have just sung acapella tonight, and we would have been happy, and it is refreshing to see this level of talent combined with the humour and the humility of someone who is still in the very early stages of their career.
Ending his set tonight with a heavenly version of Bruises you realise that you are witnessing the start of something much bigger, expect to see much more of him on TV and on the radio, and watch out for his debut album which can’t be far away – next year this show will be a sell out!!