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The War Against Intelligence

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July 2008

‘Hello America, You Sexy Bitch’

The Vaselines make it to New York – for the first time:

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The Blue Nile

Paul Buchanan
Paul Buchanan

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

In the world of the Blue Nile, things move in slow motion, and the fact that their work remains a constant source of fascination has often been down to scarcity of recorded output and public profile.

Yet this may be changing, as it is only eight months since they last played, two years since more or less the same line up played at the same venue and a mere four years since the release of their last album, ‘High.’

This relative ubiquity does not, however, produce evidence of productivity. Here, there are only two unrecorded songs – ‘Runaround Girl’ and an incongruous closing cover of ‘Strangers In The Night’ and the majority of the show is simply a band playing brilliantly within its comfort zone.

This means songs that have been embedded in the audience psyche for, in many cases, over twenty years. The opening salvo of , ‘A Walk Across The Rooftops,’ ‘Heatwave’ and ‘Over The Hillside’ is indicative: the songs sound as alien and engaging on first hearing, both timeless and a very much product of their time.

The bass parts and characteristic synthesiser washes were only really acceptable in the eighties, and even the best of the later material, ‘Stay Close’ and ‘She Saw The World’ adhere to a roughly similar template. Throughout, Paul Buchanan’s voice adds deep rooted soul to the machinery which makes such a formula so unique and special.

While it is tempting to posit that they should be challenging themselves and moving in more challenging or contemporaneous directions, it only takes songs like ‘Easter Parade,’ ‘Headlights on the Parade’ and ‘Downtown Lights’ to dismiss such a notion. On this occasion, playing it safe seems exactly the right thing to do.

Originally published in The Herald – here’s visually shaky, but sonically decent footage nicked from You Tube

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