THIS may have been a triumphant homecoming, yet Lewis Capaldi did his usual job of being the most down-to-earth guy in the room. The last-but-one time he played in this city, the nearest to his home town of Bathgate, it was at the comparatively tiny Mash House; in the past few months, however, he’s had a number one single and album in the UK, a number one single in the US, and been nominated for a Grammy.
Lewis Capaldi, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ***
Capaldi seems just as nonplussed about this turn of events as anyone else. “I’m no’ gonna win the thing, but I’ll go an’ get pished,” he said of his pending Grammy appearance, with a manner somewhere between the comedian Kevin Bridges and the broadcaster Tam Cowan. At the age of 23, Capaldi – already one of the few musicians to have held his banterous own against Noel Gallagher – is a masterful stage performer.
He said his first “hello” by way of a many-minutes-long sporting mime sequence, diffused two uncharacteristic fistfights in the crowd (“How do you get in a fight at a Lewis Capaldi gig? We came here to sing sad songs and that’s it.”) and embarrassed his attending parents by speculating about his own conception. If his music career ever goes wrong – and it doesn’t look likely to – a career in stand-up awaits.
His singing voice is not what you expect from his personality, raw and worldly-wise, with a tone of hurt from the break-up theme of his debut record. Don’t Get Me Wrong bears a soulful edge and Hollywood is his one moderately upbeat song, yet both come from the same place as the stripped-back piano ballad Bruises and the closing megahit Someone You Loved. Yet in 80 minutes, his 12 songs lasted maybe an hour; and while Capaldi is always worth listening to, whether speaking or singing, this felt like a miniature version of the extensive arena shows he’s surely bound for. David Pollock