Mull Historical Society / Washington Irving @ O2ABC, 3 February

Live Review by Chris Buckle | 09 Feb 2012

Tonight is Washington Irving’s second visit to ABC as part of Celtic Connections 2012. The first occupied the smaller ABC2, but the band seems undaunted by the main venue’s substantially larger dimensions, with a robust run through single Abbey Gallop a memorable highlight. Elsewhere, an as-yet-unrecorded instrumental offers a tantalising glimpse of their in-the-works debut.

Colin MacIntyre’s freshly-sparked commitment to the Mull Historical Society label is affirmed tonight by a setlist selected almost exclusively from his first three albums, plus new release City Awakenings. Only Samuel Dempster R.I.P makes the cut from the brace released under his own name, though as an ode to his great grandfather, it fits with the evening’s ‘This Is Your Life’-style reflective tone: Public Service Announcement is accompanied by dispatches from MacIntyre's directory enquiries days; later, The Lights is introduced with a story of a childhood visit to Glasgow (he found the metropolis overwhelming, only to be told they’d only reached Oban).

MacIntyre’s friendly enthusiasm loosens up an appreciative but starchy crowd, as do plentiful Loss-period highlights, from a solo, acoustic I Tried to the evergreen perkiness of Watching Xanadu. Unfortunately, the room never quite generates the atmosphere his performance deserves, but as he pushes hard against the curfew, MacIntyre chalks up a modest victory regardless.

Played as part of Celtic Connections 2012