Hogmanay 2008 - Paolo Nutini

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Hogmanay 2008 - Paolo Nutini

Ending a busy year by playing the Hogmanay stages in both cities is all par for the course for the very busy Paolo Nutini, finds David Pollock

Reports of Hogmanay’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Certainly Edinburgh’s event, which suffered all manner of gloomy speculation pretty much since the bells finished ringing us into 2008, has returned with perhaps the strongest line-up in memory. The presence of bright young things Glasvegas and Friendly Fires actually gets the drop on next month’s NME Tour, while Groove Armada and The Complete Stone Roses offer crowd-pleasing turns. Attic Lights and Broken Records, meanwhile, are among the best of Scotland’s guitar-based new breed.

Glasgow can’t quite top that bill, although reliable home-grown stagers Idlewild will appear, along with Blondie tribute act Bleachie and the winner of the Road to Hogmanay contest for young local bands. Uniting both bills and probably the biggest name on each however, is Scotland’s own Paolo Nutini.

When Nutini’s as-yet-untitled sophomore album is released early in 2009 it will have been almost three years since his debut These Streets. We might be forgiven for thinking the growling soul and blues singer has since been indulging in the three ‘R’s (resting, writing and recording, that is), but even a brief glance at his recent CV tells another story.

Nutini started 2008 by supporting Led Zeppelin at their reunion gig in London’s O2, to raise funds for the Ahmet Ertegun Foundation in aid of the late Atlantic Records founder and Nutini’s mentor. The show reportedly went as well as could be expected considering Nutini isn’t actually Led Zeppelin, and certainly didn’t put him off sharing a stage with superstars. This year also saw guest spots with Paul Weller, The Rolling Stones and Petula Clark, plus supporting Etta James at the Hollywood Bowl and singing to Quincy Jones at his 75th birthday party.

He’s also made friends with Rod Stewart, and signed a wealthy sponsorship deal with Puma, so they can use ‘New Shoes’ in their latest TV commercials. This link-up saw him share an unlikely press conference with Usain Bolt at the Beijing Olympics earlier this year.

It’s been quite a journey for a 21-year-old who was earmarked to take over the family business. Nutini’s parents own the much-loved Castlevecchi fish and chip shop in Paisley – opened by the singer’s grandfather when he emigrated from Italy.

The milestones just keep coming, with Nutini set to be the first artist to play both Edinburgh and Glasgow’s New Year celebrations in one night. Of course, Hogmanay is a bigger deal in Scotland than almost anywhere else in the world, and to be courted for both events is a huge honour. Nutini will perform first in Edinburgh, then be ferried through to Glasgow right after, so he can start his set an hour before the Bells.

From there, it’s straight into promoting and touring the album, which Nutini has been allowed to produce on his own by his label. ‘When I played them the first batch of songs that I’d done,’ he said earlier this year, ‘they liked what they heard and told me “keep going”.’

‘I just wanted to express myself,’ he went on, killing the idea that sophomore albums are all born of hard-partying contentment and slapdash make-doisms these days. ‘I think people will appreciate the fact there’s been a bit of heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears that’s gone into this record.’ Such a promise might be a tall order to live up to, but then Nutini has made a habit of delivering on them for quite a while now.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Concert in the Gardens, 31 Dec, Princes Street Gardens, 0844 481 2009, www.edinburghshogmanay.com, 9pm, £42.50 (£37.50); Glasgow’s Hogmanay, 31 Dec, George Square, 0844 477 7700, www.ticketmaster.co.uk, £15, 11pm.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party

Famed as one of the best New Year celebrations in the world, thousands of revellers bring in the New Year in the centre of Edinburgh with a mix of live music, DJs and varying knowledge of the lyrics to 'Auld Lang Syne'. On the bill this year are Maximo Park, Slaves, Peatbog Faeries, Shooglenify, WHITE and Craig Charles…

Paolo Nutini

The Ivor Novello Award-winning Paisley pop singer-songwriter. Paolo Nutini's first album These Streets, which included hits 'Jenny Don't Be Hasty' and 'New Shoes', was released in 2006 and peaked at number three in the UK chart. In his early days Nutini supported The Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse and KT Tunstall and…

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