The Scottish singer justifies the hype
James Ayles
18:01 11th July 2019

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Fresh from his acclaimed set at Glastonbury, Lewis Capaldi charmed once again in the rather more sedate surroundings of Kew Gardens.

Capaldi, who stepped in fairly last-minute after Jess Glynne cancelled her show due to haemorrhaged vocal chords, was in fine form for what he described as probably his biggest headline show to date.

Pop duo Dusky Grey started things off with an energetic early set at the UNESCO World Heritage site, and second up was Nina Nesbitt, another Scot with a nifty line in pop bangers and on-stage chatter.

The 25-year-old is a firmly established artist in her own right and delivers a powerful set, ploughing through despite a half-interested audience still getting their dinner in. If you were one of them, you missed a cracking Beyoncé cover and a smart reworking of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’.

A Lewis Capaldi live show is quite an experience, somehow mixing the exuberance of youth with the poignant ballads that have become his trademark, all aspects enhanced in the picturesque grounds of Kew.

The fast-rising Scot is a big name to get as a replacement for the second of six shows as part of Kew The Music, with Beverley Knight and Billy Ocean opening the series and the likes of Jools Holland, Craig David, Garbage and Rick Astley to come.

Really, Lewis is just a 22-year-old enjoying every moment of his lightning-fast rise to the top, and for a show attended by many families, his mid-song chat varied wildly from the witty to the profane and back again in double-quick time.

There’s the kind; getting his tour manager on stage as the crowd sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, the crude; telling him to ‘fuck off’ straight after, the funny; waving a bra around and joking about the owner’s impending back pain, and the self-indulgent; instigating the audience into chanting his name as he swigs a lager that “tastes like shit”.

All this bravado is very much in contrast with the piano-driven ballads that have sent his album to the top of the charts, but he is gradually developing a stage presence similar to that of his budding nemesis Noel Gallagher.

Capaldi, accompanied by a four-piece band, happily mixes up tracks from his new album with earlier material, while the likes of ‘Hollywood’ offers the set an injection ensures the tempo never drops too much.

A couple of glitches with the sound system at the back were frustrating, while a show like this is always susceptible to the constant movement of the crowd to and from the toilets and bars.

But, as Capaldi rounded out the set with a couple of confetti cannons and a spine-tingling rendition of ‘Someone You Loved’ with the sun setting behind him, it became quite clear why he is top of the charts and will likely remain there for some time.

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Photo: Jake Owens