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Modern Studies / Rick Redbeard

Glasgow Glad Cafe (Thursday 31st May 2018)

By • Jun 9th, 2018 • Category: long players

BM can’t help saying yet again what a really great asset to the Southside of Glasgow The Glad is.

Friendly, inclusive and with a decent sound system – no bouncers required, at least at the gigs BM has attended – although rumours they have booked Conflict next month may change that, only kidding… And a 5 minute walk from BMHQ as well.

So the support slot for tonight’s Modern Studies album launch fell to Rick Redbeard. BM is not going to mince about here, his combo The Phantom Band (awol since around 2015) are sorely missed. Anyway, Rick solo is still just fine, playing one or two new songs (he forgot the words to one, improvising ridiculously to get through to the chorus).

There were also evidence of what he is best at solo, melodious but slightly skewed and eldritch folk songs – opener ‘Cold As Clay (The Grave)’ was nerve-tingling, and ‘Any Way I Can’ was just sublime… enough said. Anyway, maybe not Rick’s most consistent solo gig but there is enormous talent there and BM wishes him well.

Since their last appearance at The Glad, Modern Studies have become BBC6 music regulars, done a chamber orchestra-accompanied residency during the Edinburgh Fringe (regrettably couldn’t get to that) released a second album and toured the UK. The Glad is still however a bit of a home from home. Drummer Joe works behind the bar here so… And there is quite a turn-out of local Shawlands talent in the audience (BM is looking at you, Jackson, McGregor, T Stewart, Joseph, although didn’t spot McManus…).

One or two technical glitches aside, this Scots/Lancs four piece were in top form Emily on vocals/keyboards, Rob on guitar/bass/vocals, Pete on bass/cello/piano and Joe on drums. They had some extra firepower tonight in the form of two female backing vocalists who certainly added to the sound, and movement onstage.

What we got was around ten songs – at least half of the recent album ‘Welcome Strangers’, a warm yet haunting collection for which the description “organic” sounds like a cliche, but the songs do feel almost as if they have been dug out of the ground, earthy and naked. From first album ‘Swell to Great’ we also get a couple, including ‘Sleep’ and ‘Ten White Horses’.

The interplay between the four members is natural and unshowy, the shared duets between Emily and Rob (especially ‘Disco’ and ‘Get Back Down’) are sublime, and the lyrical subject matter is evocative but not so specific as to be backed into a corner… Also much respect to the bass and drums, Pete and Joe holding it down and also working up a sweat (not difficult tonight, it was like a greenhouse) when required.

BM is reminded of artists as diverse as The Incredible String Band, The Delgados and Boards of Canada, not so much for the music but for the atmosphere, the vibes, man…

After dispensing with the whole encore thing (they don’t see the point), they ended with recent single ‘Mud and Flame’ – what a great song, ending a darn good night’s local entertainment, for local people, by local people etc. – actually anything but: with these songs Modern Studies can and will go to far off places!

Betty Mayonnaise

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