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MR. SCRUFF @ Badlands gets 9/10


Mr. Scruff All Night Long @
Badlands
Friday, April 12, 2019

9/10

There are certain DJs who transcend genres, who know good music is simply good music. Consummate selectors with encyclopedic knowledge, obsessive record collectors on an endless quest, intelligent mixers who can effortlessly control the vibe of the room. Mr Scruff is one of those. A real DJ’s DJ, he’s the epitome of a music aficionado. A mainstay of the Ninja Tunes label, the Manchester legend graced us with an all too rare visit on Friday night, to remind us why he is so loved and highly regarded, blessing Badlands with an epic five-hour set. There ain’t no party like a Mr. Scruff party.

Such is his reputation, he drew out a wide-ranging crowd of music lovers, clubbing veterans and familiar faces, with Badlands selling out. Those who know knew this was not a night to miss, and there was a great vibe and packed dancefloor all night. Massive shouts out MOVE and Dancing In Space for bringing the legend back to Perth. He’s only been a couple of times in the last decade.

Badlands was a rather odd choice of venue, but it ended up working pretty well, and the ex-Devilles Pad’s kitschy, hellish interior, gave the night a fun and unique vibe, different to your average club. Perhaps through a bigger, more open room would have made it a little easier for everyone to move around, and get a good dancing spot.

For the first couple hours (8-10) it was a little uncomfortably crammed in the garden bar, as the main room didn’t open till Scruff came on at 10 (playing ‘all night’ till close at 3am) But there was a host of local talent keeping the vibes pumping in the Badlands Bar Beer & Tea Garden all night. Pandora and Anais B got the night started early on, until the main room doors finally opened and people flooded in, pretty soon filling it up. And there he was, the bald, bearded one himself, already getting stuck in.

With a long night ahead, Mr. Scruff took his time, pacing it nicely, starting off with some slower funky grooves to set the mood. The sunken dancefloor filled up quick and remained jammed all night.

The Badlands stage had been taken over by speakers – with Voyager Sound System installing a special, massive rig, just for the night’s show, that towered on each side of Scruff. While he’s known for his vinyl collection and mixing, he was using CDJs tonight – more likely a practicality when playing a 5-hour set and travelling to the other side of the world. But his innate mixing was smooth and effortless as he worked the rotary mixer.

Anyone can smash together a bunch of big, popular records to get people excited, but it takes a special DJ to maintain your attention all night while managing to play deep cuts and obscure, exotic records you’ve never heard. Tracks that, by the second break, you’re getting down to like it’s your favourite jam. Despite playing many unfamiliar tunes all night, it was a constant joy.

There were still plenty of big tunes and classics though. An instrumental remix of Amerie’s 2005 R&B smash 1 Thing was particularly cool. He worked through an Afrobeat section, as well as funk and soul, including some James Brown. He even dropped the legendary, seminal track Amen, Brother by The Winstons, which famously features the Amen break – the most sampled drum break of all time.

The variety of music on offer was incredible, but somehow Scruff stitches it all together so it made sense, flowing between jazz, funk, soul, Afro, tropical, drum ‘n’ bass, breaks and house – an incredible, exotic blend. Just gradually building it all the while. He’s the sort of DJ you can listen to all night and five hours just flies right by.

Scruff, of course, has his own productions, which have their own unique sound. Funky, quirky, wonky beats. Along with his trademark cartoon characters and graphics he designs. It’s a shame there wasn’t more of a visual component on the stage, but it did strip it back to basics, with it being all about the music and the towering sound system. He mixed in a few choice Scruff classic here and there, which always incited cheers from the fans. As he dropped the wonky beat of Spandex Man the vibe picked up another notch.


Over the night, some superb local selectors helmed the decks in the garden, providing a respite from the main action – Josh Grainger took us up towards midnight, before local legends Ben M and James A went back-to-back with a fun and funky set of disco and house, and Jaxon closed things out later on.

Back inside, the party was pumping, and before you knew it, it was coming up to the final hour of his set. He brought it home strong, dropping harder beats, getting deep, down and dirty with some bass and breaks sounds, which was just what everyone was wanting. Probably his best and most famous tune, Get A Move On off 99’s Keep It Unreal of course made an appearance, as well as Music Takes Me Up, and some hip hop sounds with a nod to fellow Ninja Tunes legend Roots Manuva. The dancefloor was a sea of flailing, tired, sweaty limbs that just didn’t want to stop, but the five-hour journey had to eventually come to an end, to the cheers of the adoring crowd who gave Scruff a hero’s salute.

A real masterclass in mixing, a superb evening all round and a set for the ages from a true original and veteran of the scene. Let’s hope it’s not too long this time before he returns.

ALFRED GORMAN

 

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