When Marmaduke Duke first took to the stage, a fury of emotion, sounds, images and excitement exploded onto the audience at Manchester’s Deaf Institute like a sonic rainbow. Apart from the complex layers of their songs, the band caused indecision among gig-goers about where they should be looking.
Picture a group of hairy men that are experiencing an urge to ad lib; experimenting with songs such as 'The False And The Cinematic' as they go, two drummers and a strange iconic figure stand centre-stage, looking around the room with poise and authority. The latter is 'The Duke' - an awkwardly silent conceptual character created by the band, and a man that oozes respect from the kids at the front throwing around toy swords and chanting his name between songs.
The crowd are also treated to outbursts of Simon Neil’s eccentric performance. Hurling himself into the crowd as the first song starts sets the tone for the rest of the night's madness still yet to come: a brief stint on top of the bar, stepping across the balcony and flipping himself over the glass divide to finish off the trapeze act.
Conflicting musical themes fill their set - plunging from beautiful sing-along canon vocals into harsh saw tooth synths. ‘Red And The Number’ and current single ‘Kid Gloves’ prove to be winners, with a large section of the audience singing along as The Duke stands proud in his statement top hat and glittery wet-look leggings.
The bizarre novelty of live role-play and duel drums provides exciting dynamics for a fresh genre of alternative rock that electrifies and increasingly stuns the revelers throughout their set. Although at times it just feels plain peculiar, to be watching strange behaviour and ideals being acted out in such a trendy venue makes the gig feel very special indeed. That unpredictability is what rock should be about.