Sunday, September 24

Mull Historical Society – Edinburgh Summerhall Dissection Room

In a record company promotions office, London town, late 2000 or early 2001, a track came on provoking one of those joyous ‘what’s this?’ moments. The song was ‘Barcode Bypass’. Mull Historical Society’s debut album ‘Loss’ appeared in October 2001 and eight albums later (two released under Colin MacIntyre’s own name) there’s ‘In My Mind There’s A Room’. It’s available via the usual modern channels but for those who care, also on double pink vinyl. A stellar literary cast too long to mention here assisted in its creation including locals Ian Rankin, Jackie Kay and Alan Warner. It’s an emotional listen. More so when one discovers it was recorded in a studio… apologies, a room… in Tobermory, once inhabited by his Grandfather Angus, none too shabby a poet himself.

So it is that folks beat a path to the fabulously bohemian enclave known as Summerhall to witness what most expected to be a ‘the-entire-album-in the-right-order’ show. Which would have been some evening, but, solo with an acoustic guitar, Colin warms up the chillingly named Dissection Room with ‘Barcode Bypass’ as the second number. Plenty feign something in their eyes.

What follows with the full band on stage is a well-judged selection of current and older tracks from the canon, punctuated with a few engaging tales of Mull (just don’t ask about the cousins). ‘The Final Arrears’ from the second album ‘Us’ was majestic; ‘1952’ from the new album, Liz Lochhead’s tale of being five years old amidst the small Lanarkshire mining towns poignant, its gritty verse giving way to an anthemic, swooning chorus. Then, right on schedule ‘The Red Flame Diner’ strips all the noise away, revealing itself a thing of moving, melancholic beauty.

At the end we’re back where we started. Prior to the release of the first album came the untimely death of Colin’s father. Like most courageous artists, he wasn’t afraid to create from – and go public with – the resulting raw, intensely personal emotions. The audience needed no second invitation to join in with the keening chorus of ‘Loss’. It was a powerful moment, somehow sobering and intoxicating at the same time that will live long in the memory.

Sept 17th: Bloody Scotland Festival, Stirling

Sept 20th: Wayword Festival, Aberdeen (with Alan Warner)

Oct 27th: Tobermory Book Festival, Mull.

Reviewer: Roger Jacobs

Reviewed: 4th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.