Live review: Lewis Capaldi, Summer Sessions, Edinburgh, Tue 13 Aug (3 stars)

Lewis Capaldi, Princes Street Gardens, Tue 13 Aug

credit: Ryan Johnston

Great patter and tales of heartbreak

Lewis Capaldi has been the breakthrough of 2019. His debut album Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent has sold by the bucket load, fuelled by monster hits 'Someone You Loved' and 'Grace' it went Gold in just two days and hasn't left the top three in the official charts since release. Both nights of his Summer Sessions gigs sold out within hours. Not bad for a wee lad from West Lothian.

A huge part of his appeal lies in his sense of humour. Even if you don't appreciate his maudlin singer-songwriter output, his feud with Noel Gallagher, the Chewbacca mask, his stint working in Greggs and that pole dancing video for 'Grace' make him hard to dislike.

The Snuts are a welcome warm-up act adding a dash of noisy rock (on an all Scottish bill also including Indigo Velvet and Mark Sharp & the Bicycle Thieves). Obviously indebted to the 90s/00s sound of Oasis/Arctic Monkeys/Embrace/The View, they're a rambunctious rabble of over excitable indie tykes swigging from bottles of Buckie between songs about smoking dope or a plaintive 'Glasgow'.

Lewis Capaldi knows how to make an entrance, a dash of classical, a snatch of hip hop then strobes pulse, confetti canons fire and he launches into 'Grace'. It's harder and heavier than on record, every word sung back in unison by the crowd.

The between song patter is top notch. Early on asking 'do you like rock'n'roll?' to huge cheers, 'fuck you I don't play any of that shite.' Or introducing yet another tale of heartbreak with 'I know you're all in a good mood but let's get sad.' He can't stop himself, making gags about Paolo Nutini on 'Rush', burping or taking the piss out of his pianist (Aiden Halliday) during the 'fucking depressing' acoustic section. Self-deprecating, self-aware and genuinely funny.

However Capaldi's biggest problem is that much of his output is very samey. 'Grace', 'Bruises' and 'Hold Me While You Wait' all prove he can pen a beautifully crafted tale that tugs on the heart strings but there's no ebb and flow, it's all downbeat, melancholy. To be fair the young crowd are besotted, hanging on every word. And that level of devotion is hard to fake.

He ends drawing out 'Someone You Loved' to comedic effect (and adding a quick cover of 'Don't Look Back in Anger') desperately trying to time the gig to finish as the Tattoo fireworks explode across the night sky for a fitting finale.

And don't worry Lewis, we won't tell anyone about you pishing yourself hitting the high notes in 'Hollywood' – that stays between us, right?

Summer Sessions, Princes Street Gardens, 14 Aug, 6pm, sold out. Reviewed at 13 Aug concert.

Lewis Capaldi, Summer Sessions in Princes Street Gardens

  • 3 stars

Lewis Capaldi in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens.