LEWIS CAPALDI: LIVE AND ACOUSTIC, Saturday 16 May, 2020 Live Via Location Stream, Bathgate, UK, Reviewed
Back in the 1970s I was obsessed with the first incarnation of Elvis Costello because he expressed the pain of disastrous romance behind a veneer of resolute cynicism tied to verbal gymnastics -he made losers smarter and meaner. Fast forward 50 years and reach Lewis Capaldi, the self-deprecating loser who wears his pain on his sleeve to such an extent it is embarrassing: self-loathing as lifestyle choice. The result dropped a year ago and Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent, headed by “Someone I Loved” which hit # 1 on the Billboard 200 and a worldwide smash for the elfin winner you love to lose.
I loath both the single and the album and returned to them way too often for when I grade the UK charts every week (it was a steady D+ to C-), though catching Lewis on stage at Jingle Ball last year (here) drew me to him at the time and I wrote: “The hope for live performances is that it tells you something you don’t know, for Scottish heavy emoted Lewis Capaldi it taught us he is a self-deprecating sweetheart. He should be better, he deserves his success just because he dubs himself a chubby young man who enjoys putting food into his mouth, and you can’t help but want to hug him” and immediately upgraded him to a “C+”… though it didn’t last. By January of this year, Capaldi was being mistaken for a seatfiller at the Grammys and the personification of a true rock star everyman that Costello never came close to. That Rag’n’Bone Man/Capaldi tour must have been a nightmare, security would never believe either was a headliner.
Which isn’t why I chose to cough up the five quid to watch his live acoustic stream of Divinely UnInspired To A Hellish Extent (yesterday he claimed it was from a song not on the album but defining how he felt about the recording session for the album), and in celebration did the usual one camera (actually two, but whoever filmed it must have forgotten she had another option) remote from his mancave and what came across was a certain wearying hour plus of over share. A suspension of disbelief in his every man persona. With an acoustic guitar, a Pro Tools and a coupla mics, Lewis was a chatty, eagy going charmer going crazy in isolation and, grateful for what he has, but sick and tired of it all.
Before a huge plaque in celebration of the albums sales, a piece of egoism he readily cops to, he looks right in the camera and natters and as he attempts to dismantle the fourth wall instead he resurrects a fifth as he oversings these heartbreaking acoustic ballads after a devastating break up. But the harder you look at it, the most the entire set up of Uninspired feels iffy. Just to be clear, here is a picture of the woman, reality TV star Paige Turley, Capaldi dated for a year and a half before she dumped him and he wrote a ton of songs:
So, if you think the 23 year old Glaswegian is a virgin… I would guess not.
Last night was exactly a year since Uninspired, and a week since his six song EP To Tell The Truth I Can’t Believe We Got This Far (five songs from the album and the Mark Ronson composed horrorshow “Shallow”) (as an aside: I asked Facebook friend Linda Thompson what she thought of Mark Ronson’s new cover of “I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight” and she said: ” I didn’t listen all the way through. I have a short attention span”)and Lewis performed the EP and the album and chatted aimlessly about success and how it feels, and how he mixes pride into weirdness. But a man who was secure enough as a pudgy teen to date Paige is not who he appears to be, and his recent claim that “Somebody I Love” was written for his Grandma is just plain creepy.
But we knew it was going to be overcooked even acoustic (“I exaggerated my feelings” Capaldi noted about his lyrics), so why watch?
Here are my reasons:
1 – I had never used the platform he is streaming with Dice, and I had Laura Marling coming up on June 6th on the same platform and wanted to test run it for a mere ten bucksish.
2 – I wanted to see if it had improved the experience.
Well, Dice is easy to use and they haven’t improved the experience in the slightest. Though, his “Shallow” is better than the godawful Cooper-Gaga original. And if Capaldi isn’t who he appears to be, well neither was Elvis.