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PAOLO'S BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER

IS there a translator in the house? You'd need one every time Paolo Nutini opens his mouth to speak.

The lad may look Italian (he gets it from his old man, apparently), but young Paolo grew up in Paisley, Scotland.

Yep, it's a tough one to grasp. But there are no such worries when it comes to his vocal – a beautiful instrument, that one.

Where's he been for the past five years? Working on an album, actually.

And besides, 2009's Sunny Side Up kept him busy for longer than expected. The third record drops next month – time to hop aboard the carousel again.

I'm sure his female admirers (the ladies love Paolo) thought it wasn't possible for the man to get any prettier. Well, he's only gone and outdone himself in that department.

The lean 27-year-old has been working out. The bed-head look has been perfected, and he's got a new all-black wardrobe (yes, that'll get everyone excited).

There are nine players with Paolo tonight and, yet, it rarely feels as though the band (including three guitarists and a brass section) is overdoing it.

Though they do love a big, old burning crescendo (the splendid Alloway Grove almost knocks us out).

New stuff, old stuff, a Christy Moore cover, that speech from The Great Dictator – the bloke just wants to shake it around and funk it up.

Current single Scream brings out the rockstar in Paolo, and you suspect that if he had things his way, he'd ditch the hits of yesteryear. But we all need some candy, man.

witty

He and his gang display a level of musicianship that leaves the acoustic heart-throbs with whom the chap used to play chart tennis trailing in the dust.

For a start, their leader was born with soul in his throat and he's a witty lyricist, too – inventive with a tune and happy on his feet (super moves there, Paolo).

He still plays the part of six-string pin-up (Last Request and Jenny both get a look-in), and a re-worked version of Pencil Full of Lead reminds us that there's more to Paolo Nutini than just matters of the heart.

But it's the new songs (Diana, Better Man) that he hopes we remember.

They sound strong, brimming with confidence, in fact, as Paolo cements his reputation as a trusted purveyor of late-night soul rock.

Indeed, you might say that round three is off to a cracking start. HHHHI


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