Preview: Summer Series, Somerset House, London

The source of the Blue Nile is in London
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The Independent Culture

The Glaswegian singer- songwriter Paul Buchanan, of pop band The Blue Nile, has never been part of the musical rat-race. With only four albums in 25 years – A Walk Across the Rooftops (1982), Hats (1989), Peace at Last (1996) and High (2004) – his band has never been into overexposure.

"After all these years, my life is more akin to somebody trying to write novels," says Buchanan.

Now the six-piece is to join the line-up in a series of summer open-air concerts at Somerset House in London, along with acts of the moment including The Fratellis, Justice, UNKLE, Lupe Fiasco, We are Scientists, The Zutons, The Feeling, Duffy and Adele.

"I'm not even aware of who else is performing. I don't read the music press and I don't keep track of who is popular," says Buchanan. "We stayed out of the way of the limelight. We were working out of a tiny cold-water bedsit trying to create pure music. We knew that if it became about personality, we would destroy the impact of the music. Do you really know what Puccini looks like? Would it help if you knew everything about Puccini's private life? No it wouldn't. It makes you numb. We were all grown-up men when we made these decisions. We are just lucky, because for a band who was never really on Top of the Pops, we've survived."

The band's style of atmospheric, melodic pop music has led in the past to collaborations with Annie Lennox, Rickie Lee Jones, Texas and Peter Gabriel, but Buchanan still tries to shun the limelight. Instead, he says, "My overall sense is that I'm always trying to write the perfect sentence."

Nonetheless, Buchanan and bassist Robert Bell have come out of hiding long enough to play at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, as part of the Manchester International Festival last year. And now Buchanan is writing a song for the National Theatre of Scotland's new play, 365, for the Edinburgh International Festival, before continuing to record the band's fifth album.

10 to 19 July (020-7845 4600; www.somersethouse.org.uk)

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