Live review: Fran Healy

The Crouch Ender and Travis frontman flies solo for a showcase gig at Dingwalls ahead of his debut album release. But has he got the chops to succeed?

The chipper Scotsman and provider of thousands of Mondeo men’s Christmas presents over the last 15 years, Fran Healy is striking out on his own this year for debut solo effort Wreckorder.

He seems pretty happy with it too, but it’s his more atmospheric, filmic moments that stand apart from a clutch of Travis-alike also-rans.

Opener In The Morning’s urgent, thrusting piano, strings and drums point the way, and the duet Sing Me To Sleep - with Niamh McNally in for Neko Case tonight - is arguably the most beautiful song Healy has penned, while elsewhere he wraps our oft-unspoken fears in gentle melodies.

The humility of As It Comes’ elderly protagonist opens an affecting window onto our dotage, revealing disarmingly honest and rarely-heard thoughts.

Rocking Chair, inspired by newsreader John Suchet’s account of dealing with his wife’s dementia, marries Healy’s lightness of touch with lost-at-sea lyrics to truly heartbreaking effect.

Moonshine’s peppy but swooning vocals help lighten the load, before a run of Travis requests brings the night to a justifiably celebratory end.