Tuesday, 13 February, 2024 in Music

Into Live Music: Mull Historical Society

Concert: Mull Historical Society
Venue: Glasgow Oran Mor
Date: 8 February 2024

Coming up with the idea to record an album on one topic – rooms – could be viewed as pretty limiting but when that album’s concept extends to enlisting thirteen different authors providing words on their own favourite room, subsequently developed into lyrics and songs, then it’s nothing less than genius. Fortunately Colin MacIntyre aka Mull Historical Society (who is himself an acclaimed author with a new book coming later this year) and Gordon MacLean had the foresight for this idea which has culminated in a truly outstanding work titled, In My Mind There’s A Room

The collaborators are literary heavyweights with the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Liz Lochhead, Nick Hornby, Jacqueline Wilson and Stephen Kelman on board. All very impressive, but what MacIntyre and MacLean have achieved is to sculpt those written words into a musical vision that deserves to be heard far and wide. 

Returning to the concept, a room in one’s life that evokes memories or means something is an idea we can all buy into. Indeed, and I am sure I won’t be alone in this, it started me thinking of places I’ve lived, pulling back memories long stored in the back of my head. Maybe one day I’ll write them down. I know I want to.

Chapter One

MacIntyre takes to the stage in front of an expectant seated audience, commenting that he has borrowed his wife’s velvet jacket – it is very cool to be fair -before sparking into I Tried from 2001’s debut long player Loss. The passion of his vocal is immediately evident and hints at a great show ahead – just how great we didn’t know at this juncture! 

The first half of the show featured songs predominantly from the new MHS/author album and first up was Kelshabag written with Sebastian Barry. As the five-piece band joined MacIntyre part way through, the contrast from solo to full band experience shook the senses in a matter of seconds.

There was real variety here and the band, keyboards (Fiona Shannon), violin (Hannah Fisher), guitar (Sorren Maclean, bass (Gordon Maclean) and drums (Andrew Samson) were accomplished, moving swiftly from the pop of Not Enough Sorry (Jennifer Clement) to utterly majestic 1952 (Liz Lochhead), a song which had post-punk moves sitting comfortably aside American harmonies and lyrics which beautifully provided a portal to another time, another place. Lochhead later joined the band on stage for another of her contributions, Anaglypta, which she’d initially called A Room O’ Ma Ain.  Her presence was a total bonus on the night.

The guest contributors didn’t stop there with Val McDermid appearing on stage for Room Of Masks, an intoxicating tale of life near the Firth of Forth, it features an almost spoken word rap, and elements of an enveloping church organ, and is utterly epic in its execution. James Robertson also appears for Seeds, firstly reciting the short story before MacIntyre takes lead on the musical version, the track unerringly rhythmic and poetic.

Elsewhere, MacIntyre’s vocal stretched every sinew on The Red Flame Diner (Stephen Kelman) and the post-punky angular Panicked Feathers (Nick Hornby) is a joy. The first set ended with MHS staple, The Lights which gave a hint of what was to come…

Chapter Two

The second half featured a run through of choice cuts from Mull Historical Society’s third album, This Is Hope, twenty years old this year. By this point the seated audience were getting a little restless and no wonder, they wanted to get up and dance, shake their thing and just let go, and many do! 

These songs were like an old blanket, familiar, pleasant and gave off a warm and welcoming feeling. Peculiar, with it’s don’t make them laugh, don’t piss them off refrain had the crowd kicking those chairs to f#ck and getting on with the groove, and so it continued.

The one thing that shone through at this show was how much Colin MacIntyre was enjoying it. Whether it was the little vignettes in-between songs, explaining the background of the track or whatever, punctuating with a no holds barred approach to every song, it is great to see. 

The swooning harmonies of How ‘Bout I Love You More with drums that reverberate around the room leaked into the dreamlike Treescavengers before the straight up rocking madness of Tobermory Zoo flipped the dial again.  More followed as the crowd loosened their bodies to the band’s self named song, Mull Historical Society, losing it completely in the moment, a great way to finish what was a fantastic show.


There is no doubt that Mull Historical Society have come up with a fresh, exciting and relevant new album with In My Mind There’s A Room, one that questions and provokes the listener and that is what music (and the written word) should do. Their back catalogue also lends to a rich tapestry of music so go delve in, check out and get on with this band. 

And of course, they hail from Mull where the best known export is Tobermory whisky from the acclaimed distiller . Celebrate them both, slainte mhath!

Keep up to date with Mull Historical Society via his website here

John Welsh


Feature image: Alan Fraser











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