Celtic Thunder’s Keith Harkin finds an intimate recording spot in Full Circle Venice

Keith Harkin

Venice resident Keith Harkin built up a reservoir of goodwill with Celtic Thunder fans over a decade of grueling world tours with the famed musical troupe. That has buoyed the Irish singer/guitarist’s efforts since leaving last year to focus on his solo career. His recently released live album “In the Round” and national house concert tour, which brings him back to Los Angeles this week, were crafted with those fans in mind.

Whereas CT shows are a family-friendly mash of musical ensemble and choreographed theatre — what they lack in subtlety they make up for with Broadway-style bombast and technically precise performances — Harkin’s earnest pop balladry aims for intimacy. But it’s the kind of personal confessional delivered with an audience in mind, belted to the rear seats with uncomplicated passion.

Crisply recorded for an invited audience of friends and followers at a venue where he feels at home after previous shows — Venice’s Full Circle Community Center — “In the Round” is animated by Harkin’s robust singing, strumming and relatable between-song commentary, like his heavily accented recollection of composing “My Love Goes On” in the boat he bought and lived on when he first moved to Venice Beach. The acoustic setup allows contemplative numbers like “Risk the Fall” and “Care Free Heart” to breathe, free of the strings and synths that shellacked last year’s sterile holiday set “Nollaig.” Harkin is first and foremost a performer, and the hometown crowd is vocally receptive to his uplifting messages. It should please established fans.

— Bliss Bowen

Check keithharkin.com for upcoming house concert tour dates in La Mirada on Dec. 18 and 19.

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