There comes a time in the playing careers of certain musical duos that is special. When the countless hours of practice and performing live really begin to pay dividends and the pair evolve into something more than just two musicians playing together. The result is a synergy that is truly amazing. That, my friends, is what you have the privilege of experiencing when you attend a Busby Marou show.

Let me set the scene, it’s a Saturday night, I’m standing in the recently renovated Great Western Hotel in Rockhampton, Queensland where Thomas Busby and Jeremy Marou first crossed paths before embarking on their musical journey. The newly installed “Big-Ass Fans” in the ceiling do a lot to tackle the stifling, still heat of the city, actually making it cooler inside the semi-enclosed building than out. The venue is chock full of avid Busby Marou fans and there’s a special area reserved for the artists’ friends and families, front and center in the seated section. Parents, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters and cousins mill about with excited smiles, chatting and laughing together. There’s a celebratory atmosphere in the air. Something like the anticipation felt by the fans of a triumphant sporting team, eager to greet their heroes at the airport upon their return home after the big game.

These humble blokes are back to where it all started for them, paying welcome tribute to their hometown fans in what essentially feels like a big homecoming party, full of their friends. Kicking off their career with a self-titled album in 2011, the pair has gone from strength to strength over the years, winning Blues and Roots Work of the Year in the 2012 APRA Music Awards and reaching number 5 on the ARIA Album Chart with their second album, Farewell Fitzroy in 2013. This show celebrates the release of their third studio album, Postcards From The Shell House, a reference to an influential heritage-listed building on Great Keppel Island, a place of significance to the boys in their early days of friendship and music-making around the campfire.

But, none of their many successes appear to have gone to their heads and they still feel more like mates when they take to the stage, Thomas Busby charming the crowd with his down-to-earth Aussie charisma. The fans respond in kind, cheering to the start of what would become the most significant album launch of the duo’s career. When the music starts it becomes clear why the dynamic of the pair works so well. Busby’s strong, clear voice and confident strumming carry the songs along, accentuated perfectly by Marou’s subtle vocal harmonies and effortless lead guitar work. It’s a joy to watch. Both men are adept at their instruments and opt for the softer but fuller tones of acoustic guitars rather than electric, the former usually being slighter more difficult to play than the latter. But this doesn’t seem to hinder Jeremy Marou at all as he thrashes out all manner of fast, complicated licks, breaking up the melodic, heavy vocal emphasis of the songs with exciting guitar variations. He also switches his guitar for a ukulele in several songs, where he is just as proficient and appealing to the ear. All in all, it’s a magical combination of heartfelt lyrics, classic songwriting and soulful performance. These guys really have honed what they do to a fine craft and it is very well received by the adoring fans in the crowd. Several weeks on from the show and I’m not surprised to learn that the lads played several sold-out shows on the remainder of their Queensland tour and the album has since gone to number 1 on the ARIA Album Charts, adding yet another well-earned accolade to the band’s trophy cabinet.

For the rest of the fans out there, a national tour has just been announced. Check out http://www.busbymarou.com for all the dates on what is sure to be a fantastic national tour.

Words by 

Arran Mcathur

Musician/Writer

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