Start to End present The Blue Nile's Hats, Summerhall, Edinburgh, Fri 21 Feb
- Megan Forsyth
- 24 February 2020
Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow fronts a moving live tribute to the cult album classic
It's been over 30 years since Scottish cult band The Blue Nile released their sophomore album Hats to critical acclaim. Characterised by layers of synthesisers and singer Paul Buchanan's soaring vocals, Hats is a short but powerful and defining album that has undeniably stood the test of time, still eliciting strong emotions in both new and old listeners three decades later.
More than a tribute act, Start to End is a versatile collective of young Scottish musicians who present their own live interpretation of a variety of classic albums from first to last track: everything from Coldplay's Parachutes, to Taylor Swift's 1989, to Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. The group first performed The Blue Nile's Hats in November in Glasgow, and on Friday they brought the nostalgic show to Edinburgh's Summerhall.
The seven-piece band is fronted by Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow, who has the seemingly insurmountable task of singing lead vocals in place of Paul Buchanan. 'The Blue Nile are a band that mean so much to so many people, that some of you are bound to leave disappointed,' Abbott says self-deprecatingly – but if the crowd's mood throughout the night is any indication, absolutely no one does.
The predictable seven song setlist begins with the trumpet-laden 'Over the Hillside' which immediately brings a hush over the crowd. 'The Downtown Lights' is a clear favourite that builds to an intense crescendo, and Abbott does an impressive job hitting the difficult high notes. Abbott mentions that after the Glasgow show, he made a note for himself to 'remember to relax' before transitioning into the much more mellow 'Let's Go Out Tonight'.
Picking up the guitar for 'Seven A.M.', Abbott encourages the audience to shake along to the song that turns into a fun jam session showcasing the true talents onstage. After a gorgeous rendition of the album's final track, 'Saturday Night', the band takes a bow but remain onstage for an encore of The Blue Nile's most recognisable and popular song, 'Tinseltown in the Rain', which easily gets the biggest singalong of the night. At just under an hour, it's a short but moving tribute to one of the finest Scottish albums of the last 30 years.
Reviewed at Summerhall, Edinburgh, Fri 21 Feb.