Photo by Garrick Twinney
Last Thursday evening Fran Healy played his second solo London gig in less than a week, though this time he stayed indoors. His half hour busking by London Wall a few days ago was, well, instrumental in persuading Deutsche Bank staff to adopt War Child as their Charity of the Year, though he was later unable to prevail upon security staff to let him into his hotel bar while wearing his hat. At Bush Hall the titfer and the charm were very much in evidence as Healy drew back the curtain on his first solo album, "Wreckorder".
Fans of Travis, the band Healy is famous for fronting, will be delighted to hear that the material could have fitted quite handsomely into one of their records, but what's a singer-songwriter to do when his bandmates are off enjoying Hollywood, driving racing cars or learning to play classical piano? Old and new songs co-existed seamlessly in the ninety minute set which deftly blended intimate singalongs to hits like "Driftwood" and "Turn" with interludes to check out the new material and plenty of amusement courtesy of Healy's amiable storytelling.
The "Wreckorder" highlights for us were the waltzing "Anything", featuring a trademark Healy chorus that you're already humming as the song finishes like you've cherished it all your life and "Sing Me To Sleep", whose progressions, even on acoustic guitar, at times evoked a Morricone soundtrack and on the album will feature guest vocals from Neko Case, whose own solo career is bubbling just underneath stardom. "As It Comes", for which Healy has talked Sir Paul McCartney into providing the bass part, is a more melancholic take on the former Beatle's own "When I'm Sixty Four" which felt as if it would reward repeat listening, The only new track which fell flat for us was "Fly In The Ointment" where Healy's gift for fashioning a stream of consciousness lyric from a well-known phrase takes on a challenge too far. Maybe, as with his original ideas for "Sing", his bandmates would have talked him out of that one. Overall, though, as Noel Gallagher himself might have said, nice chords, mate.