Modern Studies @ The Glad Cafe, 26 Jan

Live Review by Andrew Gordon | 30 Jan 2017

While its modest capacity and friendly atmosphere lend every gig at The Glad Cafe a sense of community spirit, tonight’s performance has a markedly familial feel about it – and not just because, as Modern Studies’ Emily Scott jokes early into her band’s set, “we’re related to most of you”. For both acts, this show represents something of homecoming.

Modern Studies, who partly hail from Glasgow, have just wrapped up a UK tour in support of their lush debut record Swell to Great, making theirs the more literal reunion. Tissø Lake, meanwhile, perform songs from Paths to the Foss, a record that doubles as a transcendental postcard of bandleader Ian Humberstone’s time spent working in the woods of south-western Norway.

The latter’s turn unfolds something like a travelogue, with Humberstone offering little anecdotes here and there to immerse the audience in his poetic musical landscapes. The material itself however, which receives an assertive full-band makeover, proves transportative in its own right. Some muscular, eccentric drumming leads Humberstone’s Waltman-esque mood pieces in unexpected directions, the album’s title track becoming a bouncy foot-stomper while Øvsthusfossen blooms into a vivid psychedelic voyage, its lovely fiddle outro an ideal parting salute to a strong set.

Modern Studies have also brought stories to share, and there are chuckles all round as Scott drolly describes how audiences have developed a habit of shouting “I failed it!” during shows, which inevitably elicits the response “I got a D!” from somewhere up the back.

The band exude a winsome giddiness that amplifies the wide-eyed joy of Everybody’s Saying's chanted chorus, while the effervescent instrumental break on Father is a Craftsman, all cymbal splashes and cello arpeggios, is an absolute treat. But it’s the harmonies on the more wistful Ten White Horses that sets hairs tingling, earning an ecstatic response from a Glasgow crowd that, while more than a little bit impartial, knows a great gig when it sees it.

Part of Celtic Connections festival 2017