Lewis Capaldi at The Academy, Dublin, 13th February 2018
As you look around a sold-out Academy, there’s a very mixed but not an unexpected crowd. Downstairs, a teenage disco and a sea of iPhones with flashlights and snapchat filters, and upstairs, an arrangement of couples all waiting to be serenaded by Lewis Capaldi on Valentine’s Eve.
There’s giddy excitement around the room as the crowd eagerly anticipates his appearance. He is met with a rapturous applause as he shuffles on stage with his four band members, all taking their place at their instruments. To be met with this reception despite having only 4 songs available online is nothing to be sneered at and you have to hand it to the under 20s – they’re extremely dedicated to their broken-hearted ballads.
The 21 year old carries a guitar for the opening song Only You. His fringe falls in front of his eyes, his gaze is directed to the floor and he’s lacking in any sort of stage presence.
As he transitions into Mercy without any introduction, it seems as though he may not speak for the whole gig. The sound lapses for a second during the song, which serves to only add to the awkward atmosphere on stage. That being said, it doesn’t seem to affect the crowd much as they croon to every word and clap supportively through the bridge.
The crowds support puts Capaldi a little more at ease. He swaps out the guitar for a bottle of beer which he swigs at regular intervals, helping to occupy his nervous hands as he sings. “Hello, how’s it going?” he asks quietly in a thick Scottish accent and a manner that, of course, reminds you of Paolo Nutini. “This is fucking mad man, last time I played here I played to like 200 people, this is fucking sick”.
As the set goes on, he tells stories of playing Electric Picnic, drinking in Dublin and humbly confesses that this is his biggest headline show outside of Scotland. There’s no denying his vocals, smooth and rich like dark chocolate, with a depth that’s extremely rare for such a young singer.
At no point does he falter or struggle, even when stripped back to just a piano accompaniment, but you can still sense his modesty and insecurity as he incessantly pulls and fixes at his ear piece for loss of something to do as he delivers song after song.
Lost on You and Fade are greeted with the expected enthusiasm from loyal fans, while other new tracks get lost along the way. An “Oh Lewis Capaldi” chant starts at one point giving it the atmosphere of a school concert that’s going exceptionally well.
A piano interlude leads into Bruises because he “doesn’t believe in encores”. It’s a special moment in the set as he drags the tempo and teases out the last line. A short and sweet offering from Capaldi leaves no doubt of a sign of better things to come. “If you’ve enjoyed the set, tell everyone. If you haven’t, please don’t fucking tell anyone”.