Witnessing Lewis Capaldi’s rapid rise to international acclaim from Glasgow’s grassroots venues
“I remember standing in the stairwell when Lewis was playing and his manager at the time was like ‘he’s signing to Capital Records on Friday’ and I went: ‘him?’.”
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Today, Lewis Capaldi is one of the most recognisable faces on the planet, known across every continent for his brooding musical style and unfiltered personality. But, just a decade ago he was really only known locally as another voice in Glasgow’s music scene where he played to intimate audiences in the city’s basement bars. His rise to international acclaim was rapid and in some sense unfounded by those around him. The West Lothian-raised singer defied all expectations.
“Lewis Capaldi I mean…” said JP. “He played here and was first on supporting Bhowani Junction and Dead Rabbit and I knew he was playing, I was like ‘there’s this guy there’s a lot of hype about, Lewis Capaldi’. I’m always a little bit sceptical over hype. I mean, the Sam Fender thing was very aural, the Gerry Cinnamon thing was very natural. Lewis Capaldi, people seemed to know about him from very very early on and it was like he was being talked about to be the next big thing.
“I missed him that night but then in 2017, the year that TRNSMT launched we had a night in here called Transmission, and it was an industry night where people were invited, it wasn’t a gig that people could buy tickets for. There was maybe 100 people, 150 people in and it was Lewis Capaldi and Louis Berry that were asked to play.
“I remember standing in the stairwell when Lewis was playing and his manager at the time was like ‘he’s signing to Capital Records on Friday’ and I went: ‘him?’. I mean, he was in the middle of talking to the crowd about how he really needed to go to the toilet and it was kind of like ‘oh, I don’t know if you should be saying that’ but that’s his patter and it’s been his patter ever since. He’s very candid on stage, he doesn’t hold anything back. He said they were wanting to make him the new Adele. I just couldn’t see that happening, I was sure he’d do well, but the next Adele? Come on.
“I met him at the bar afterwards and I went up to him and said ‘the famous Lewis Capaldi from Bathgate’ and he kind of put his hair behind his ears and said ‘I’m not actually from Bathgate I’m from East Whitburn, I just say Bathgate because it sounds more glamorous’. If you’ve ever been to Bathgate it’s not glamorous, let’s be honest. And I’m from Bathgate so I can say that.
“But he’s a really nice guy, he went to the same school as me and I was really pleased to see him do well. But what he’s done since then is absolutely wild.”