Edinburgh Summer Sessions Touring until September 1
On a chilly night in Edinburgh, the crowd in the dip off Princes Street need no warming up. ‘Ohhh Lewis Capaldi,’ they sing, to the tune of ‘Ohhh Jeremy Corbyn’. They may be too young to know that it started life as Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.
That song is now 16 years old, which places it bang in the middle of Lewis Capaldi’s demographic.
Elton John calls Capaldi ‘the next British superstar’, and Scotland seems to agree. On the poster for the Edinburgh Summer Sessions he’s the only performer doing two nights, and one of only two with ‘SOLD OUT’ stamped across their name.
Elton John calls Capaldi ‘the next British superstar’, and Scotland seems to agree. On the poster for the Edinburgh Summer Sessions he’s the only performer doing two nights
It helps that he’s almost a local, born in Glasgow and bred in Bathgate, but he could fill most venues up and down the land. In the first half of this year his debut album, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent, was Britain’s biggest seller.
Not for nothing does his show begin with a burst of confetti.
At 22, Capaldi is a phenomenon, or rather two distinct phenomena. As a singer he’s a particularly successful version of a standard model of our times: the balladeer with a big, raspy voice who could be Adele’s little brother.
But as a personality he’s a one-off: cuddly, jokey, candid and lovable, a cross between Robbie Coltrane and Paddington Bear.
Self-deprecation, such a familiar component of the British character, seldom surfaces on the concert stage. Even our home-grown pop stars have brittle egos, and most of them go through a whole career without cracking a joke at their own expense.
Until now, the only one prone to self-mockery was James Blunt, who is disarmingly witty on Twitter. Capaldi has spotted this gap and pitched his tent there.
IT’S A FACT
Capaldi was the fastest unsigned artist to reach 25 million plays on Spotify, and the first to sell out an arena tour before releasing an album.
The title of his album makes it perhaps the first hit record ever to give itself a stinking review. Three songs into this show a woman tosses her bra on to the stage. Capaldi picks it up and puts it on his head.
‘This is my job,’ he says. ‘This is my career.’ The fans don’t know whether to laugh or swoon.
He’s ordinary, and so is the music. It’s just one ballad after another, never terrible but nothing special. Even Someone You Loved, which spent seven weeks at No 1, is middling, and middle-aged.
But Capaldi himself is highly endearing. ‘I wrote that song when I was 17,’ he says after singing Headspace, ‘and I’ve sung it in pubs round Edinburgh and nobody listened, so to have 6,000 people sing it back to me means a lot.’
This is hardly an exaggeration: it feels as if all the girls know all the words to all the songs. There are girls singing their hearts out to the girls they’ve come with, girls aloft on other girls’ shoulders.
The only group of males in the whole place is the one on stage, consisting of Capaldi and his four-man band. As ordinary as he seems, he has cracked a code that baffles many young men, and found his way into a million hearts.
The Rails Cancel The Sun Out now
The Rails are a band with only two members but loads of pedigree. The female half is Kami Thompson, daughter of Richard and Linda, who made the classic album I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight.
The male half is James Walbourne, the latest of many gifted guitarists to join The Pretenders. And, in the Richard and Linda tradition, they are married to each other.
You won’t need a forensic scientist to spot this DNA on The Rails’ third album. Half the tracks are pop-rock numbers that ride a wave of confident guitars, while the other half are folk songs that ring out soft and clear.
The Rails are a band with only two members but loads of pedigree. The female half is Kami Thompson and the male half is James Walbourne
Every track has character, and several of them demand to be put on a playlist, led by Save The Planet, a protest song that takes no prisoners.
It all makes you want to see The Rails live – and you can: they’re touring from October 20-29.
THIS WEEK’S CD RELEASES
By Adam Woods
Slipknot We Are Not Your Kind Out now
In this first album in five years, Corey Taylor’s voice is still mostly a roar of pure fury. But there’s spookiness too, even restraint, on Spiders and My Pain, and ominously gentle acoustic guitars amid the roaring on A Liar’s Funeral. Elsewhere, formidable brutishness and ferocity still rule
Modern Nature How To Live Out Friday
At the heart of this there’s reflection on the lines between city and country. Which means lovely tunes: here krautrockishly propulsive and spare (Bloom), there (Footsteps) with the folky, bucolic qualities of The Beatles’ Mother Nature’s Son, and elsewhere recalling the otherworldly organic pop of Talk Talk
Frank Turner No Man’s Land Out now
Among songs about amazing women, nimble acoustic tunes about Mata Hari (Eye Of The Day) and serial killer Nannie Doss (A Perfect Wife) do their stories justice. But an indie-rock anthem about Sister Rosetta Tharpe is thin, and other efforts are dragged down by biographical overload or gauche arrangements
Clairo Immunity Out now
At 20, Clairo has shed the whimsy of her debut album, striking a balance between strong tunes and drowsy blankness. There’s a gauzy Nineties indie feel to Bags and an of-the-moment R&B vibe about Closer To You. She seems to be feeling her way to her own sound