Monday, July 27, 2009

New Shoes: The Paolo Nutini Experience

Right out of the chute, Paolo Nutini jumps on his early hit, "New Shoes". The mix is bass heavy and somewhat muddy, but despite the result of an obvious half-assed sound check, the crowd recognizes this song and gets moderately involved. Now what? Paolo goes with another tune off his new album that maintains the pace and fortunately the sound guy starts dialing up a bit more clarity on behalf of the talented band. Nutini's vocals are cutting though the mix. I'm enjoying myself. This is going to be a good night after all.

I had already accepted to conditions of this venue, The Vogue. The Vogue is an old neighborhood theatre that was converted many years ago into one of Indianapolis' best venues for national acts. On the plus side, smoking is banned and the ventilation is top notch. The bar service is good and security keeps things in order without being heavy handed about it. You have to be 21 to enter. Another positive. The drawback is that seating is sparse. You either have to call ahead for seats or queue up an hour or more before the show. I arrived 15 minutes before the first act came on stage and found a parking spot right across the street. I'm in the door, meet my daughter right off. She buys me a big-assed can of Foster's, and PaPa's pretty happy at this point. I don't mind standing around for a couple of hours, especially when I'm only 30- 40 feet from the stage.

The opening act is Matt Hires knocking out a few pleasant acoustic numbers. The second performer is Erin McCarley. She was restricted to her guitar and a few synth sounds. She may be a headliner one day, same for Hires. The predominately young female audience was here for the dreamy Paolo Nutini, so Erin did not get the props she deserved.

So Nutini finished the two snappy numbers and went into one of his soulful ballads. In my opinion, this is where he shines. The mix is still not what it should be and numerous people are talking like this is a cocktail party and the band is merely providing background music. But hey, the venue is like a party with folks standing around, drinks in hand, and with good friends. Let's just say that Nutini could not overcome obstacles of The Vogue on many of his subtle offerings.

The sound finally gets fixed and the rolling bass is gone. Nutini warms up, and I have found good value for my ticket price. Paolo Nutini worked hard to deliver a top notch show. He had a smokin' band behind him and finished strong. "Jenny Don't Be Hasty" during the 5 song encore was the highlight of the evening.

A couple of notes:

During the show, a random drunk appears out of nowhere and points at me and starts laughing about my lethargic demeanor. The diminutive fucker is no threat to me. I'm more surprised than insulted. He babbles on for a few seconds while I go into Anton Chigurh mode and stare at him. I finally point to the back of the room and he ambles along. There but for 1 mg of Xanax, nothing came of this bizarre encounter.

There was one fellow whose head was so big, it looked like a stop sign was erected in front of the stage. My daughter remarked that this wasn't a head, rather a planet.

Speaking of obstructed views, many of the petite ladies strained to elevate enough to see the handsome singer. Nutini, however insisted on singing out of a crouch early in the show. He looked like was looking for a lost contact lens he was so low. Anyone under 5'5" was not seeing the dude.

I think Paolo Nutini was either stoned or else hammered on the Corona he was gulping down.

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