Reading Rooms, Dundee on 11th November 2005
Reviewed by Simon on 25th November 2005
Secretive side-project featuring an all-star lineup of Scottish music pioneers takes to the stage for the first time...
Nobody here tonight really knows what to expect from Marmaduke Duke, because nothing much is known about the band. Most people know it's the joint side-project of JP Reid from rising Scottish alt-rockers Sucioperro and Simon Neil from fellow Scots rock gods Biffy Clyro, yet nobody knows how they'll assemble live on stage until the night itself.
Taking to the stage one by one (just to enhance the suspense no doubt) a five piece collaboration of Biffy and Sucioperro appear - comprising of Simon and the Johnston twins (Biffy) alongside JP and Fergus (Sucioperro). The set-up of two drummers, guitarist, bassist and Simon on keyboard synth and vocals raises a few eyebrows around the venue before the first note is struck.
Starting with the bizarre Fridge And Fromage, Marmaduke Duke begin their attack on the audience's collective senses. Visually it's a spectacle like no other - five talented musicians on a tiny stage wearing makeup and pink veils, plus somebody dressed all in black who merely walks around the stage acting as the Duke himself (later revealed to be Big Slice from Sucioperro) prompting both the band and the crowd at various points. Simon starts his assault on the eardrums with some twisted random noises before hurling himself into the crowd after under a minute of the gig, whilst JP Reid shows off his sublime guitar playing and joint vocals. This truly is something different, and the small venue lends itself perfectly to the occasion from the start.
By midway through the set the band calm down to play a couple of acoustic numbers, triggering a singalong which brings a wide smile to guitarist and vocalist JP's face. By the time the setlist nears its conclusion everybody in the venue has jumped until they've poured with sweat, sang back several choruses, stood in awe of the proceedings, and danced in ways which haven't been seen in Dundee since the seventies.
Finishing with the three pronged attack of Everybody Dance (a new song which sounds exactly like you'd expect it to from the title), The Kill And The Kure (a brief but epic rock track from the first album) and Blunder And Haggis (a bass filled stomper of a closer, which displays James Johnston's mastery of his craft). As the final refrains are played out to an exhausted but exhilarated crowd, Simon Neil wails "At least it wasn't ordinary" from a near foetal ball on the floor. Indeed, this brings the night to a close as aptly as could have been hoped for - tonight was certainly the birth of something new and wonderful, and nobody who witnessed it could ever have the temerity to call it ordinary...
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