Lewis Capaldi debuts new track ‘Forget Me’ at London’s O2

The Scottish singer-songwriter packs plenty of laughs and plenty of tears into his riotous, emotional headline show

Few artists would, within the first few minutes of their O2 headline show, announce to a crowd of 20,000 fans that “I’ve f*cked all your mums.” Capaldi has done it two nights in a row. Opening with ‘Grace’, a rousing, upbeat track that fills the arena with his distinctive rasp, he belts out each lyric from the arena stage with total commitment. The “mum f*cking” routine that follows should feel out of place. In fact, with many acts, it would be hopelessly awkward. But this has always been Capaldi’s appeal – his ability to marry heartbreak power ballads with a ridiculous sense of humour.

He’s determined to pour as much of it as possible into his performance. Capaldi is irreverent, full of energy, and totally uninterested in playing it cool. He cuts himself off with a disbelieving giggle whenever the crowd sings louder than expected and openly worries about set pieces coming loose and crushing him “like a sexy grape.” There is a collective gasp when, after a brief transition, he appears sat atop a huge screen with his hands on a piano, pouring his heart out to ‘Bruises’.

Lewis Capaldi - Bruises (Official Video)

“F*ck me, this is high,” he says as the applause dies away. “I never thought I was scared of heights, but this is… f*ck.” Then he grins. “I’m not even playing this f*cking piano.” To prove it, he holds up his hands as the real pianist trills away somewhere out of sight. Capaldi apparently doesn’t even know how to play piano. “Show business,” he quips as 20,000 people laugh below him. Midway through his next track, his hands moving over the keys, everyone has forgotten that he’s faking it.

Capaldi is seamless in his ability to move from sincere crooner to cheeky comic and back. Halfways through the show, he stops himself mid-song to organise help for a fan in the packed crowd. When the O2 cheers this behaviour, he doesn’t miss a beat. “Thank you. I guess I am a good guy.” He looks around at his band. “Where was I?” And then he’s back in it, voice soaring out across the stands.

His discography has provided the backbone for many a break-up playlist, but more than anything Capaldi is determined to have a good time. A cover of ‘A Thousand Miles’ by Vanessa Carlton proves an unexpected stand-out of the set, with Capaldi slinging his guitar around his neck and letting loose to the great enjoyment of the crowd. He’s also having great fun with the mysterious TikTok announcement that’s been dangling since the start of the set – Capaldi is planning to go live on the app towards the end of the show in order to reveal some big news. He offers the O2 a few hints at what it could all be about. “My chlamydia has returned,” is one of them. “And it’s airborne, so you all have it.”

@lewiscapaldi Never been more nervous in my entire life… This is my new single ‘Forget Me’ #newmusic #livemusic #forgetme #corn ♬ Forget Me – Lewis Capaldi

When the countdown finishes and the livestream begins, there’s a visible shift. Capaldi is openly emotional performing his biggest hit, ‘Someone You Loved’. When he finally reveals that he’ll be debuting a new track, ‘Forget Me’, it’s the first time that he seems nervous, bobbing his head along to the chorus as the crowd listens in. “Do you like it?” he asks sincerely. The O2 screams their encouragement.

And then the comic returns. Capaldi makes up a dance routine on the fly, encouraging the arena to learn it with him. As a performer, Capaldi spends a lot of his time trying to convince the crowd not to take him seriously. His problem, of course, is that his voice makes that near impossible.