posted on June 03, 2008 05:04
Mr. Scruff (live in the Black Box, Galway)
Review Snapshot: Galway city, June Bank Holiday weekend, a sky full of sun, a bottle of bucky, Mr. Scruff and a couple of friends; the winter is over, and life is good again.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
Last time I saw Mr. Scruff was at the Tony Allen gig in Crawdaddy last year, but because of Mr Allen’s afrobeat sensation, and the free mojitos outside, I didn’t really get to see much Scruff. What I had seen, however, had been something fresh. As we sat in the bar about nine o’clock sipping our drinks, he was playing soft chill out, laid back beats perfect for the start of the night. When I came back in a couple of hours later, buzzing off the closest I will ever be to Fela Kuti, he was spinning funk, klezmer and afrobeat to a room full of the demented. Hot damn. This weekend I was looking forward to five hours of solo-scruff loving.
As a DJ, Mr. Scruff is damn impressive. The breadth of his musical palette is phenomenal, and he manages to own all genres. Not dipping in and out, with the ebb and flow of fashion, but appreciating them, owning them, and moulding them into his vision. From funk to reggae, trance to ambient, to soul and indie, nothing seems forced, nothing is quirky for quirkiness’ sake. The ability to keep a crowd in the palm of his hand for five plus hours, while building a set from chill out to full on hoolie… I guess its easy when you know how.
I’ve never been to the Black Box, and God knows what it would be like for a band, but for a DJ it is perfect: A huge cavernous space, plenty of room to throw yourself about, and cheap cans at the bar. For the black hole that the best sets can be, it couldn’t be better.
Something that got me about the night was the difference to a traditional gig. This was an all night show, much more like a club with great tunes than any live spectacle, and it was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. I don’t know why, but it seems much easier to just turn off and enjoy without the visual attraction of a band to distract you. There were only two problems with the gig, some uncharacteristically dodgy visuals (Galway, Oranmore, Spanish Arch… eh a little lame?) and a virtual, and equally uncharacteristic absence of the funk.
They are minor quibbles though, and the set was so good, it is hard to nitpick. In fact the only let down came right at the end, in the overwhelming oddness of the last, encore, tune. After whipping the crowd into a mad trad-infused climaz, the encore was The Cure’s Love Cats, a great tune, sure, but not for the time and place.
Eclectic, enjoyable and ridiculously infectious, Mr. Scruff puts on one hell of a good show, and five hours of solid bogey is better than any gym.