When the Rolling Stones asked Paisley’s teenaged troubadour Paolo Nutini to open for them in Austria this past July, it was the latest in a recent series of events that have sent this boy spinning. “It’s fucking nuts!” Paolo says of his meteoric rise to stardom, propelled by a no.5 placing for debut single Last Request, and a no.3 peaking of debut album ‘These Streets’. “Elton John likes it,” he continues incredulously, “apparently he’s played the album in his house. I don’t believe it.”
Today he has a rare day off at home, the foiled terror plot cancelling his flight to Germany. “The last 6 days I’ve been in 7 different cities”, he says, before moving on to discuss his new pals Ben E King, Robert Plant and Stevie Winwood. It’s like any normal conversation with a Paisley teenager, apart from the presence of such names, interspersed among talk of indoor football at Love Street, or playing Pogs as a kid with a mutual friend. Soon it’s back to the high-life chat, about playing to 40,000 Stones fans and meeting the old codgers themselves.
“Jagger said if he knew we were all Scottish he’d never have booked us! hahaha! I said ‘I’m Italian! My name!’ and he was like ‘nah, you’re Scottish! Your dad’s Italian’. And then Keith turned round, he just says ‘Oi its Darius in here man’, and I was like ‘what the fuck are you talking about Keith!?’”
With a return appointment to open for the Stones in Sheffield confirmed, it’s clear young Paolo is impressing a lot of important people. Putting pen to paper on a 5-album deal with Atlantic Records - home of many old soul crooners he talks of with awe in his voice - is also opening up doors. “At Montreux [Jazz Festival] I was on stage singing with Ben E King. I met him actually, was chatting away to him…” - pause, gulp, continue - “the band that was playing my songs consisted of George Duke, Buddy Williams, Cornell Dupree - all the classic players that were on all the old Aretha Franklin records.” He’s not boasting - just reminding himself, on his day off, where his whirlwind has taken him so far – and that’s pretty much everywhere.
Scottish audiences are getting all they can of Paolo too. After two shows at T in the Park – a Main Stage quickie and a packed T-break tent – he's in town for an intimate show at The Liquid Room for T on the Fringe, and another at Glasgow ABC in September – both sold out, of course. “T in the Park was the best night ever. It was a good atmosphere and I went out and partied, and then I found out Italy won the World Cup! Did not sleep all night, it was fantastic!”
So is he Paisley’s finest singer-songwriter since David Sneddon? Aye, and a fair bit more – this lad's momentum looks unstoppable.