At the Manchester International Festival event on Tuesday I committed one of those social faux pas you can only dream of. As I politely thanked festival director Alex Poots for the event I casually mentioned I was particularly looking forward to the rare chance to see The Blue Nile at the Bridgewater Hall. Knowing an artsy Glasweigan like him probably had an inside connection I'd already thought to say A Walk Across the Rooftops is still their best album. "Not Hats, then," replied Alex. "Nah, didn't quite reach the heights," I said. Replied Alex: "I played on that."
For the record, Hats is superb. And I've always been a huge fan of Craig Armstrong's piano version Hats track Let's Go Out Tonight on his first collection The Space Between Us. But no, Blue Nile's finest hour is the soaring string arrangement of Tinseltown in the Rain as Paul Buchanan stretches his vocal range.