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Live review...
The Blue Nile
It's like a secret society, this Blue Nile congregation. You never see anyone wearing the T shirt, or blasting out their tunes from a pimped-out Mustang. I would imagine that Blue Nile tattoos are especially rare. But the faithful are all here tonight; the veteran clubbers, the audiophiles, a few indie kids and a smattering of new converts who heard Paul Buchanan on the Texas song 'Sleep' and decided to investigate further.

There's every reason to savour that expectant mood. The band has released four albums in a quarter of a century. They rarely tour. Only Kate Bush could command this kind of intrigue. So when Paul and his friends make a nervous entrance, everyone is delighted, hurling support at the fella.

He obliges with a few limp jokes and a succession of awesome songs. The likes of 'Happiness', which starts in a state of contentment and rises to a euphoric burn. Or tonight's anthem from the 'Hats' collection, 'Saturday Night', which makes a weekend assignment sound like a Homeric epic.

The voice is perpetually aching for the mythical note that will complete the journey. He never quite gets there, but that's the essential drama of 'Tinseltown In The Rain', 'Stay' or a more recent song, 'Because of Toledo'. Even a relatively cheery story like 'Family Life' almost breaks your heart.

A few lyrics are fluffed, there's an audience singalong and 'Headlights On The Parade' is the penultimate dazzle of impressions. The farewell is a version of the Frank Sinatra tune 'Strangers In The Night'. When he performed this on a shiny afternoon at the Electric Picnic last year, the effect was muted. But tonight, it's a perfect showcase for the phrasing, the bitter-sweet sympathies and the legend that is the Blue Nile, in love forever.

Stuart Bailie

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Gig Details
Venue: Grand Opera House
Location: Belfast
Date: 27/10/2007

Related Links
+ Official site