Last week I went to see Marmaduke Duke at the Glasgow Art School and it was a riot! Well not an actual riot with police and such but it was the most exciting gig I’ve been to in ages so I thought I’d set you up with hyperbole. The last night of their short tour was sold out and the feeling in the Art School audience was laid back but crackling like a loose wire.
Everyone seemed to be aware this would be a one off show.
Marmaduke Duke are also know as The Dragon (Succioperro’s JP Reid) and the Atmosphere (Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil) who have gone by many names, though not Cillit Bang, and feature a number of various artists at different shows. Marmaduke Duke are something of an artistic movement as opposed to a regular scot-rock working band with plans to create 3 concept albums. They are currently in their second stage and are known for limited tours and abstract announcements.
Support that dark night came from Mancunian four-piece Airship, who are my hot ticket for this year. They built up from a sweet but not saccharine acoustic opening before breaking into a credibly catchy rock sound. The style is not new, shades of Idea Track years Idlewild, Mogwai, Mercury Rev and for my money, a real spirit of under appreciated Llama. So whilst the ground is well trodden, the songs are new and the real joy is in the execution and hopefulness. They do what they do so very well and like all the best bands, when they’re recorded they’re good – when they’re live they’re incendiary.
And then came time for the Duke.
The Duke appears with the band on their live performances, an unknowable lascivious figure in plastic mask and glitter spandex, dueling his whimsical side with lab coat and trilby, shall we assume his analytical idiosyncrasy and sunday best? The Dukes purpose is to oversee things and stalk the stage while the rest of Marmaduke Duke seemingly enter a type of exhibitive study of melancholic, choleric, sanguine and phlegmatic in 16 beats or less. The Dragon wears a snood (which makes you think of Vince Noir wailing PIE!) and the Atmosphere a wine feather boa with black sequined wrestling mask. Both have made the effort to wear black shorts and brightly coloured tights with ankle boots. Drums and Bass are no less dapper.
They got the new single Kid Gloves under way very early in the set (though anything as rigid as ‘set’ seems oddly out of sync when describing the big duke), which had the effect of killing a main character at the start of a film, it got everyone’s attention. The whole set was relentless but fantastically theatrical, the highlight when The Atmosphere decided to just plow through the barriers and the crowd and skulk the floors still attached to the stage mic.
There are very few venues or security groups who normally allow this but Marmaduke Duke’s security seemed to be plain clothes rockers, a bit of a colloquial and quotidian tribute to the Hell’s Angels at Altamont.
At the end, no encore, no faking, just out on a scathing high. Marmaduke Duke scowl and growl at the crowd disappear into the future.
We can look forward to Duke Pandemonium on May 14th and the final album Death of the Duke, someday…