Nile By Mouth
With the legendary Blue Nile dormant, band leader Paul Buchanan has released a beautiful solo album solo. Now, he’s Liss Ard bound...
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 31 Jul 2012
“I’ve mainly been in the kitchen.” Paul Buchanan, inspirational lead singer with Scottish legends The Blue Nile, is trying to explain to me where the devil he’s been over the past long while. It’s all of eight years since the band slipped out High, only their fourth record in over two decades together. Renowned for their glacial work rate, and not remotely as well-known as they deserve to be as a result, the Glasgow act have quietly gone about their business since 1984’s A Walk Across The Rooftops, approaching each album as if it were more a literary work than a pop record, taking the time to ensure they are timeless. I suggest you buy the lot.
Now they have ground to halt. Earlier this year, Buchanan returned alone with Mid Air, shorn of the unique synth soundscapes of the past but still featuring that glorious Glaswegian croon. “I’m still struggling with the fact it’s a ‘record’,” he admits, ahead of his performance at Liss Ard over the August weekend. “Really I was so bewildered that, after all that time, I wasn’t getting up in the morning and going to meet the others. Because I’d been doing it since I left university. I just didn’t know what to do with myself.”
The National Theatre of Scotland asked him to write a song and, after weeks at the piano, he found that, while it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for, he had amassed “vignettes” dealing with both the loss of a friend and the apparent end of his group.
In 2008, The Blue Nile put on an typically impeccable show in Galway’s Radisson Blu. Even then, Paul Joseph Moore was not present. “That was the last time we played,” Buchanan notes, “And it’s probably the last time we will play. There was only three of us to start with and neither Robert [Bell] nor I have seen one of them for years. I think Robert and I both thought he might wander back but he didn’t. We genuinely had no idea, and still have no idea, why he wasn’t around anymore.”
You wouldn’t usually describe a Blue Nile gig as “absolutely riotous” but Buchanan does just that when he talks about Galway. “I was staying in the hotel. We were playing in the ballroom and I got stuck in the glass elevator about 20 minutes before the gig. Pure and utter Spinal Tap! I could see people going into the gig, seeing me and going, ‘What is he doing there?’”
It must have been disconcerting. Fans of the band tend to imagine them as quasi-mystical beings, disappearing from view for years on end and returning with sporadic masterpieces,. The Blue Nile’s silence speaks volumes.