Willie J Healey is a self proclaimed ‘rock n stroll’ artiste from Oxford whose quirky extended rock tunes are both parts comical and brilliant. With a handful of EPs and singles traversing the scene, Willie and band are continuously refining their craft and set, curating a really transformative set. Out on the road supporting Palace we caught Willie’s show at the O2 Institute on April 18th to catch the striking new artiste in his element.
Willie and band opened their set with groovy pop rock “Would You Be.” A 2015 release, the songs unique and pleasing tempo warmed the crowd, who sang along with the repetitive hook. In a clean and quick transition the band opened up a handful of lighter rock songs, including “Subterraneans.” Each song is structured around a shifting rock structure; aided by extended instrumentals and Willie’s well textured voice the songs have a really nice cadence and movement to them. The extended instrumentals are really a unique aspect of Willie’s songs. Displaying the brilliance of both his musicianship as well as his band, the instrumental breaks and extended plays give the songs a really hauntingly deep sound. In a genre packed with quick paced slashes of sound, the breaks offer an opportunity for breath that is unique and beautiful.
Genre splicing, these songs don’t necessarily fit into a nice little package and yet they are just as innovative and enjoyable as genre centered tunes. As the set progresses Willie J Healey adds darker edges and base undertones to some of his tunes. Displaying his range in craft and show, these songs shift tempos in a natural and easy way. It is not all shades of blue, the end of Willie’s set is centered around two more upbeat smooth rock tunes that had the crowd dancing. Showing off Willie’s abilities to story tell, these ending songs are cheerful and have a little bit of a vintage rock quality to them. They become the perfect punctuation to an otherwise well crafted set.
Reviewer: Kylie McCormick
Photo courtesy of PR.