The Blue Nile were in high spirits in 1990. Fresh off the release of their landmark second album, Hats, the Scottish sophisti-pop band embarked on their first tour of America. Flags and Fences captures footage from that trip with an impressionistic approach that perfectly matches the band’s swooning, romantic sound.
At 36 minutes in length, this BBC Scotland production could never be a cohesive look at the group’s history. Instead, it blends interviews and moody live performance clips into a dreamlike montage of big city traffic, small town strip malls, and lovers on the boardwalk. Like German director Wim Wenders’ stunning Paris, Texas, only outside visitors could view the U.S.A. through these kinds of rose-coloured reflections.
And while The Blue Nile was never much of a sales concern in the United States, it’s clear that the group has a deep abiding love for the country. At one point during the film, singer Paul Buchanan asks an interviewer: “Do you want to ask us why it’s called Hats?” The interviewer obliges. “Because of Abraham Lincoln,” he responds, smiling. “He’s got a new album out, doesn’t he?” the interviewer jokes. “He’s much better live,” Buchanan shoots back.