Our red box

We have a red box into which we throw any tangible memories of our adventures here in London. This morning I threw two Paolo Nutini concert tickets in there – mementoes of a surprisingly wonderful concert we saw last night.

I don’t know Paolo Nutini’s music too well, although I enjoy it and we have his CDs. When we saw he was performing in London, we thought it would be great to see him. I just didn’t realise he would blow my highlights back as much as he did last night. He is one hugely talented songwriter and singer, and his poignant lyrics and soulful delivery belie his 23 years.

I booked our tickets the very minute ticket sales opened, about a month ago. I was thrilled to get our two tickets, and I grew more and more excited as the concert date loomed on our calendar. What I didn’t realise, and I only discovered when we chatted to a couple last night who had travelled over from New Zealand for the concert, was that the tickets sold out in three minutes. I was totally oblivious to the mad scramble that ensued for tickets after I had got ours … the NZ couple paid three times more than we paid for our tickets, as they’d bought them on auction.

Paolo was the headline act for one of the Little Noise Sessions –  an annual week-long acoustic festival to raise funds for Mencap, a mental health charity. Tom Jones headlined for the festival the night before, supported by one of our other favourites, Lauren Pritchard.

The concert was at the Union Chapel in Islington, north London. (The scene of a disaster earlier this year when we saw the wrong show – check out Bad memories make good stories …)  It is a beautiful and relatively intimate venue, it seats about 850 people and it also still functions as a church. We got seats in the third row pews, and had a perfect, uninterrupted and up-close-and-personal view of the artists.

The opening acts were great: Jessie J, Michael Kiwanuka and Rumer. Check them out on youtube, they are all worth listening to. Rumer was my favourite; she is shy and self-conscious and her beautiful, soothing voice has been likened to Karen Carpenter’s. Her two big singles Slow and Aretha have had plenty of airtime on radio this year. She says she took ten years to become an overnight success!

The audience went ballistic to welcome Paolo Nutini on stage. Accompanied by a fabulous band – strings, brass, keyboard, drums, plenty of guitars and a ukelele – Paolo took the stage and kept us gripped for the next 90 minutes or so. Occasionally he would say a few words between songs, but mostly he just belted out number after number to the adoring delight of the audience, some of whom seemed to know the words to every song.

He didn’t introduce his band, although he did mention “big hairy Dave”, one of the acoustic guitarists who had co-written a song with him. As the band soulfully and passionately wove magic around Paolo’s unique voice, we enjoyed a journey through songs such as Candy, Pencil Full of Lead, Jenny Don’t be Hasty, Worried Man, Growing Up Beside You and the new and brilliant Bear With Me. My favourite of the evening was Paolo’s beautiful interpretation of Nature Boy, backed by a haunting and liltingly string-filled arrangement.

Of Italian descent, Paolo is exceedingly Scottish. Third generation Scottish, in fact. He grew up in Paisley, on the borders of Glasgow, the son of a fish and chip shop owner. Quite awkward in his song delivery, Paolo locks his knees together, stands on his tiptoes and leans to one side as he pours raw, eye-closed talent and passion through the microphone. His broad Scottish accent shines delightfully through his every song and, as well as everything else about him, that makes me smile.

Our red box is growing full.

Sunshine signing off for today!

Excerpt from Pencil Full of Lead

I’ve got a sheet for my bed
And a pillow for my head
I’ve got a pencil full of lead
And some water for my throat
I’ve got buttons for my coat
And sails on my boat
So much more than I needed before

I got money in the meter
And a two bar heater
Oh now it’s getting hotter
It’s only getting sweeter
I’ve legs on my chair
and a head full of hair
Got in a band
And shoes on my feet

I’ve got a shelf full of books
And most of my teeth
Two pairs of socks
And a door with a lock
I’ve got food in my belly
and a License for my telly
And nothin’s gonna bring me down

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