Paolo Nutini / Tiny Dancers - Manchester Academy 2 - 3.10.06
It only happens once or twice a year at most, but when you see a band like Tiny Dancers its possible to imagine them being single-handedly one of the biggest bands to come out of the UK in the 2007. Hailing from Sheffield the band have absolutely f**k all in common with the Arctic Monkeys and if we had to pinpoint a locals they have more in common with the spaghetti western sound of certain Coral songs mixed with the widescreen country sound of the Eagles even though they are named after an Elton John song. Walking on-stage with poncho's and Adam Ant meets The Village People style face paint the more oikish members of tonight's audience who inevitably been dragged along by their girlfriends to watch Paolo are walking out of the venue in droves only to return 5 minutes later when they realize exactly what they're missing out on.
As much as their image rips up the template, musically they don't so much rip it up as tear up every rule book that ever existed and make year zero the year of Tiny Dancers. For the first 3 minutes a hypnotic dancefried beat which is part Dr John , part the Chemical brothers, goes on until it breaks into a country tune that Clint Eastwood would use for method acting. That's as conventional as it gets with this band but somehow they manage to take from these disparate influences and make glorious tunes which should make them serious contenders for 2007.
When Paolo Nutini played Manchester last the venue was crammed to capacity with fans travelling down from Scotland just to see an intimate performance while they still could. Just three months later he's upgraded the venue to the Academy 2 due to demand and added another date at Academy 1 which promptly sold out in days. But its easy to see why Nutini has broken through in such a huge way. Simply ask anyone you know to name a major contemporary solo male star in the UK and the answer will become clear. Robbie William's is detached from reality and hasn't made a great record for years while James Blunt's life simply doesn't connect with people despite being a mildly passable background noise. With Paolo you have a songwriter who has as much in common with Mick Jagger and Marc Bolan as he does the contemporary music scene which helps him appeal to the male of the species and with smouldering good looks that would melt both schoolgirls and MILFs Nutini's success was always assured.
Playing much the same set as last time Paolo kicks of with "Alloway Groove" proving that singer songwriters don't simply have to stick to the ballads. It's the one thing which makes Paolo ultimately a much more exciting prospect than local Manchester balladeers Stephen Fretwell and Liam Frost who im sure would give anything to be able to write the collection of songs that Nutini has in just one brief but perfect album.
Although "Last Request" is the song that provokes the biggest reaction an acoustic rendition of "These Streets" is the one that stands out as the spine tingling hairs on the back of the neck moment. Just aimed with an acoustic the vocals are given a chance to shine and the raspy throaty vocals which you could spot a mile off really do set him apart. With "Jenny Don't Be Hasty" relegated as the final song of the evening for a cover of Gnarls Barkleys "Crazy" its clear that Paolo can turn his hands to anything, even on a song that have been covered so many times it makes us sick it manages to still sound fresh in this new arrangement.
Paolo Nutini has gone from zero to hero in a few short months and the next gig at the Academy 1 should mark the end of this albums promotion. If he can follow up the debut album with that second difficult album we could have a serious longterm artist on our hands here
Photos: Rebecca Lee www.rleephoto.co.uk
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