Best known as a member of girl band The Saturdays, in recent years Una Healy has been carving out a career for herself in country music. She released her first record, The Waiting Game, in 2017 and has duetted with artists including Brett Young and Sam Palladio. Now she’s out on her first UK headlining tour, which concluded last night with a show at The Lexington in London.
Healy opened her set with All You Ever Need Is Love from her debut album. It’s a piano-led, poppy track which showed off the sweet, rich tones in her voice as well as a slight huskiness, and got a great reaction from the crowd. She followed that with her version of Young’s In Case You Didn’t Know, a more uptempo take on the original with shimmering keys and a vocal full of emotion.
Throughout her performance Healy mixed songs from her first record with several covers, including a stripped-back take on Vance Joy’s Riptide and a lilting version of These Days which she mixed with Van Morrison’s Days Like This. She also threw in a couple of nods to her time in The Saturdays with a soaring, powerful spin on Last Call and Issues, where she showed off some impressive vocal runs. However, the two covers I felt worked best were those influenced by Celtic folk. She delivered a simple yet atmospheric version of Christy Moore’s classic Ride On, enhanced by the organ-like keyboards, whilst the traditional Black Is The Colour higlighted the quality and clarity in her vocal.
For the original songs, I felt there was a nice balance between the more upbeat numbers and slower tracks. The Waiting Game and new song Take Me Dancing were upbeat, optimistic numbers which had the audience singing along. Meanwhile, Staring At The Moon had a jauntier feel than previous versions I’ve heard Healy perform, and current single Never See Me Cry had a driving, rocky edge which showed off the growl in her voice. Healy also frequently engaged with the audience, bantering with them as she told stories about writing, joked about Piers Morgan and Love Island, and teased her husband (who was in the audience) about his beard. She came across as incredibly relaxed and warm on stage and it was nice to see that different side of her.
However, many of the standout songs for me were the ballads. New song Wild Grasses had a yearning, folky feel, and Please Don’t Tell Me and Craving You were full of soul and passion. I was also particularly impressed with Raider Of My Sleep, a song Healy wrote when she was 15. She performed the song solo on her acoustic guitar and it was incredibly affecting.
Healy closed her set with her debut single Stay My Love, which she’s also released as a duet with Sam Palladio. She thanked the crowd before performing the song, a romantic, gentle ballad which is full of yearning and showed off some impressive notes. The crowd roared their approval at the end of the song and it was clear that she was incredibly moved by their response.
Overall Healy delivered a solid performance with a good mix of uptempo songs and ballads and showed off some impressive vocals throughout. As someone who’s perhaps better known for her slower songs, it was a surprising performance and one that made me intrigued to see where she’ll go next. For me there were perhaps one too many cover versions in the set and it did take a little while to get going, but I enjoyed the show and am keen to hear more of her new music in the future.
Set list: 1. All You Ever Need Is Love 2. In Case You Didn’t Know 3. The Waiting Game 4. Wild Grasses 5. Riptide 6. Ride On 7. Black Is The Colour 8. Please Don’t Tell Me 9. Take Me Dancing 10. Raider Of My Sleep 11. These Days 12. Staring At The Moon 13. Craving You 14. Last Call 15. Never See Me Cry 16. Issues 17. Stay My Love Performance date: 21st June 2018