Willie J Healey – The Bullingdon 15/12/16
For some time now Willie J Healey has been Oxford’s best kept secret. However after years of developing, honing and polishing his musical prowess, 2017 promises to be the year he is propelled into the collective consciousness, his charmingly warm and compelling compositions too infectious and too enticing to remain just a localised murmur. His performance feels as much like a swan song before a long voyage as it does a homecoming show and after recently signing to Columbia records and a debut album out next year, a packed out Bullingdon turns out to wish him well on his journey.
The evening begins with another of Oxford’s bright, young prodigies, Cold Red Light, whose stripped back, soulful brand of indie rock beautifully eases in the nights entertainment, Gaby Elise’s sublime vocals haunting and consoling in equal measure. Following this Van Zeller whips up the audience with a frenetic and frenzied set of thrashy punk numbers, their exuberance and energy desperately contagious as they perfectly set the tone for Willie’s appearance.
As Healey meanders through a set of exquisitely captivating musicianship, his quiet confidence and charisma spills out in a truly memorable hour of live music. What becomes quickly apparent is that to pinpoint Willie stylistically would be to chase ones tail, such is the diversity and intricacy of his work. Although often favouring chunky and wholesome chorus lines, there is a subtlety to his work and, like a musical daydream, he often deviates into unprecedented tangents with colourful conclusions.
The outro of ‘Somewhere In-between’ contains an almost Floyd-esque flurry of fluttering saxophone and Subterranean’s expansive and throbbing ebb mesmerises, portraying the unquestionable intellect of a musician who has an innate instinct for tone and timbre. However it’s Willies ability to find huge chorus lines down uncharted and desolate thoroughfares which makes his music so unique and so alluring and his festival friendly melodies could well give Healey the mass appeal he warrants. His effortless and fearless live performance showcases not just his songwriting ability but an earnest and headstrong individual who is just beginning to harness the unbridled potential he clearly possesses.
So with a palpable feeling of expectation from everyone involved, 2017 promises to be a huge one for Healey. All the wheels appear to be in motion as we prepare to become engulfed in the wonderful world of Willie J Healey.