The Sebright Arms is one of London’s most beloved small venues. The East London pub renovated its venue last year and, after reopening back in March, has been inundated with music’s most promising talent. Tonight, the old school guitar and deep baritone of Willie J Healey would be taking to the stage.
Healey, a singer-songwriter from Oxford, has made a name for himself with his brand of rock and roll. It’s part surf, part slacker rock mixed with his brooding baritone and witty, self-observant lyricism. Since he jumped on the scene in 2015, the buzz has been growing with each EP he’s released and the crowd tonight were eager to hear snippets of his debut album, due for release in August.
Before that however, Brighton’s Fur were the support. They delivered a very polished show, showcasing the range of their brand of indie pop. They made a big impression and it has to be noted that their frontman has some dreamy hair. I strongly recommend you check them out here.
Willie and his band then took to the stage in complete darkness, but not in a dramatic manner, it was more much more understated. Healey addressed the crowd for the first time with “I almost tripped over there,” an awkward silence followed and he added, “I didn’t though.” A cheeky grin on his face. He looked ready to have a good time.
The crowd, however, seemed a little bemused with what to expect from there. This sense of unease was dissipated immediately as WJH and band launched into “Would You Be” (the video is brilliant, click the link if you haven’t seen it already.) The basement at Sebright was immediately encapsulated with the energy. His voice in particular was riveting. Screeching and screaming with such ferocity, Willie was able to command the entire room with ease.
The energy levels then continued to rise throughout the evening, with heads banging left, right and centre. Favourites such as “Lazy Shade Of Pink” and “Pipedreams” sat perfectly in between a selection of previously unheard songs. The crowd giving both the respect they deserve, clearly excited at a snippet of the forthcoming debut album – and the signs were very good.
The highlight of the evening without a shadow of a doubt though, was the most tender number of the night – “Subterraneans.” Willie’s voice punching holes in the crowd as his band build to a crescendo. A memorable moment, that makes you wonder how far this young man can go. It was delivered with confidence of a future headliner. I’ll restrain myself from getting too far ahead of myself. It was a really impressive show and one that cements Willie J Healey’s reputation as one to watch for the future.
And let’s be honest, there’s nothing like a night out at the rock show.