The last time Glasweigan jokester-slash-popstar Lewis Capaldi headlined a gig in Newcastle, it was months before his debut album would catch fire on a global scale Five years later, he returns with a sold-out arena show that capitalises on the proven spectacle of his dramatic songwriting.
Having recently dethroned her from a chart-topping position, he first gives a platform to British singer-songwriter RAYE. Although the name might only recently be becoming familiar to some, she quickly reminds those who need a catch up of her understated omnipresence in the UK dance scene with her own versions of ‘BED’ and ‘Secrets’. It’s the reclamation of creative control on her own tracks, though, such as the smash hit ‘Escapsim.’, that paves the path forward for an artist putting her own impressive voice at the forefront.
A cuboid LCD screen soon dominates the stage, visually unpacking the themes of Capaldi’s upcoming second record, ‘Broken By Desire to be Heavenly Sent’ – a project which still lies months ahead and yet has already made its presence very much known to the world. After rising from the grand floor and summoning his four-piece live outfit, lead single ‘Forget Me’ proves a refreshing alt-pop spin on his signature power balled and re-establishes the momentous cultural relevance of a singer whose high-reaching talent never fails to impress.
2023’s new setlist is used to preview several other album two cuts, including future stand-out ‘How I’m Feeling Now’ which details the pressures of following up global success in a bluntly-titled but intricately delivered reveal of chinks in a pop star’s well-polished armour. Otherwise brushing over his own turmoil with extended stand-up segments, Capaldi goes as far as to contrast a song about his dead aunt (‘Before You Go’) with talk of genital fluids. His own existence is certainly one of constant juxtaposition.
Mounting a 20-foot tall digital staircase for a brutal rendition of his very first single ‘Bruises’, his delicate tones pull an 11,000-strong crowd into his intimate world, stunning them into silence for a quivering three minutes and leaving their exposed heartstrings decidedly plucked. Immediately afterwards, he admits to “shitting himself” at the prolonged heights; Capaldi’s arena show is one of fluctuating laughter and tears.
A dynamic display of monochrome exuberance enhances those joyous highs and self-relinquishing lows, but it is of course the communal catharsis of his big hitters that make for the most memorable moments. ‘Forever’, ‘Hold Me While You Wait’ and ‘Pointless’ prelude the UK’s all-time most streamed track which is the inevitable closer, but far from an isolated peak; with future number ones currently peeking out the cusp of Capaldi’s sleeve, who knows where the next five years will take him?