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Fran Healy - Dingwalls, London, 27/1/2011

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 21 / 2 / 2011

Fran Healy - Dingwalls, London, 27/1/2011


At Dingwalls in London, Anthony Strutt watches Travis frontman Fran Healy play an excellent set to promote 'Wreckorder', his debut solo album

Fran Healy delivered his first solo album, 'Wreckorder', last year after fronting Travis who became one of biggest of all UK bands for twenty years. I was never a fan, but Fran is a voice of a whole generation. I only saw Travis once when they supported Beth Orton at the London Garage at which she was launching her 1996 debut album, 'Trailer Park' and even then this Scotsman had a strong female fan base. Fran gets a hero's welcome even though this like his last London show is a pretty small club show. I'm slightly surprised when I get there to find tickets are still on the door, but it always takes a while for people to discover your new work when you go solo. He begins by delivering the whole solo album and then finishes by playing a few old favourites. As an album, it is a steady fine piece of work. His musicians consist of a backing band along with three violin players and a cello player. 'In the Morning' opens the set and immediately starts some of the girls in the audience crying. It is is a piano led ballad with a decent pop backing. 'Holiday', which comes next, started off the solo project as he wanted to do something different after years of doing Travis and he wrote it while on a beach in L.A. 'Shadow Boxing' is more string led with deep bass grooves. 'Fly in the Ointment' is a bit of a rocker, while 'Anything', is much softer, almost Travis like in its territory. 'Sing Me to Sleep' is much darker and, sung as a duet with a girl vocalist, is a country song. 'As It Comes' is a family tale about an old couple, on which Paul McCartney plays on the recorded version, although he isn't here tonight. 'Buttercups' is a single and a song written about romance, written after Fran's wife said he wasn't romantic. 'Rocking Chair' is a sad tale, influenced by a story that Fran read in 'The Daily Mail'. 'Moonshine' sounds like something that could have been written by Jools Holland and ends the solo album. The encore is a solo set of Travis numbers, starting with a romantic number, 'Flowers in the Window', which Fran tells us was recorded with a cardboard drum kit. 'My Eyes' is a song about fatherhood, while '1922', which follows, is a song played at a fan's request. The next number isn't introduced, but includes a medley that features the Smiths' 'Handsome Devil' and the Doors' 'The End' into it. The band then rejoin him and he delivers the last three numbers, 'Call It', 'Slide Show', and 'Sierra Leone', ensuring that lots of Britpoppers leave with happy smiles on their faces.

Picture Gallery:-
Fran Healy - Dingwalls, London, 27/1/2011

Fran Healy - Dingwalls, London, 27/1/2011

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