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The rise and rise of Lewis Capaldi

Lewis Capaldi

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, August 13 and 14.

by Nadine McBay

WHILE the wiser among us mellow with age, others grow bitter. When Noel Gallagher became involved in a Twitter spat with Lewis Capaldi earlier this summer, the 52-year-old seemed compelled to keep digging himself into a deeper hole.

Responding to Gallagher’s barbs with good-natured humour seemed to bamboozle the frustrated ex-Oasis frontman, who then called the star “Chewbacca” and compared Scotland – home to generations of his fans and the birthplace of his wife – to a “third world country”.

It was all a little undignified; sour grapes from someone old enough to know better.

Even his daughter Anais abandoned him, saying how when she grew up, she wanted to be like Capaldi, then snapped a picture in a T-shirt with Gallagher’s face in a love heart.

At TRNSMT last month, Capaldi couldn’t have played it better. Having been called in to fill the main stage slot after health issues forced Snow Patrol to cancel, he greeted fans wearing a mask of the beloved Wookiee.

The rubbery memento was then auctioned online, helping to earn thousands for Frightened Rabbit’s mental health charity Tiny Changes.

While the Gallaghers are not generally known for moving with the times, Noel couldn’t have missed Capaldi’s rise. Released in early 2017, debut single Bruises – a stark eulogy for a relationship – earned 28 million streams on Spotify, making Capaldi the fastest unsigned act to surpass 25 million plays on the platform.

He made pop history again this year with Someone You Loved, another break-up ballad which spent seven weeks at No 1.

The track’s parent album Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent has been streamed one billion times globally, with physical sales just short of a million.

Like George Ezra, who closed TRNSMT after Capaldi’s winning performance, the Scot has charisma, boy-next-door appeal and the songwriting skills.

While Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent (a phrase you can imagine late art critic Brian Sewel scoffing at a greetings card) isn’t musically adventurous, its 12 piano and guitar-based tracks are watertight compositions which need no studio trickery to cover the cracks.

And like Paolo Nutini, who coughed up £10k when the original bidder for the mask pulled out, Capaldi uses his strong, gravelly lungs well, knowing when to hold fire and when to blow the audience away.

Capaldi also appeals to a broad age range; a mainstream star liked both by teenagers and their parents with no intergenerational cringe.

Indeed, while grime star Stormy paid tribute to the Bathgate “bad boy” after covering Someone You Loved in his headline appearance at TRNSMT, days later Lulu’s ignited the crowd at Perth’s Rewind Festival with a version of her own.

Responding to the album hitting No1 in May, Capaldi commented in a video shot from a record shop how “it feels good; it’s good that I’m finally going to make some money after slogging for so long”.

While he’s gotten more used to the arenas now, he spent his teens rehearsing in his parents’ shed and gigging around Central Belt pubs. “It was pretty much been eight solid years of playing to no-one,” Capaldi told Scottish Life last year.

The audiences may have been sparse but they were passionate, as were his associates on the local scene. Some appear at these Summer Sessions, with performances on both days from ones-to-watch Mark Sharp and The Bicycle Thieves and The Snuts, an ambitious Whitburn outfit recently signed to Parlophone.

Edinburgh’s tropical-flavoured Indigo Velvet perform on Tuesday with West Lothian bluesmen Luke La Volpe completing the bill the following day.

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