Gig Review: Willie J Healey at Rough Trade

Words: Lawrence Poole
Photos: Hollie Fernando
Monday 04 September 2023
reading time: min, words

Just after August Bank Holiday Monday, Willie J Healey graced the Rough Trade Nottingham stage...

Main Image (28)

With the remnants of the last Bank Holiday until the festive season still hanging heavy, it’s not surprising this one proved to be a bit of a slow burner. Yet, as slowly but surely, the coolly-graffitied bar of Rough Trade began to fill up and IPAs were cautiously nursed, this set was exactly what we all needed.

Timing its arrival perfectly for the hinterland which fills the tail end of summer and the turning of autumn, Healey’s third album, Bunny, on this evidence, fits the mood beautifully.

On the promotion trail with a short live set and signing here before he returns with his full band for a date at the Rescue Rooms in November, the woolly-hatted troubadour proves an engaging and beguiling storyteller.

Main Image (29)

Supported by pal and Bad Sounds’ guitarist Callum Merrett, the 29-year-old meanders pleasantly through several cuts from his new long-player, while delivering asides about their gestation and birth.

After a humorous aside about mistaking wasabi for avocado in a nearby sushi bar, he runs through the lush seventies soul of Dreams, the cycling-inspired Sure Feels Good and the woozy Morning Teeth (which features an outro of Gwen Stefani's The Sweet Escape and works a treat).

While Thank You (written with old mucker Jamie T and a drum machine) could soundtrack any lazy Sunday morning kickback, it’s Black Camaro, motivated by a rare emotional text message from his dad, which proves the most affecting ("Don’t you know when the sun shines on you it shines on me").

Healey’s mixture of deadpan quips and poignant laments combine to make him a captivating and thought-provoking performer - it will be interesting to see where Bunny takes him.

Willie J Healey performed at Rough Trade on 29 August 2023.

We have a favour to ask

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion

Please note, we migrated all recently used accounts to the new site, but you will need to request a password reset

Sign in using

Or using your

Forgot password?

Register an account

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.

Forgotten your password?

Reset your password?

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.