Live Review

Mr Scruff, Leeds Student Union Stylus

Yes, that’s right. 5 HOURS. Mr Scruff is not a man to do things by half.

A live show by Mr Scruff is an unpredictable prospect: mention his name and the word most people will respond with is ‘unconventional’. This is a man whose audience is as varied and unusual as his back catalogue. Among the throng tonight are the expected: the class A fans either nipping off to the bog every 10 minutes or those whose blood levels are about 50% water, such is the volume of H20 they ingest tonight. Surprisingly though, when you look around you see stoners jamming away with middle aged couples, yuppie businessmen and in particular, one man in his early 30’s going mental for him for the 5 hour set. Yes, that’s right. 5 HOURS. Mr Scruff is not a man to do things by half.

The variety of the crowd sums up his appeal: through all of the music he makes, all the obscure jazz and broken beat samples, there’s a pop sensibility underpinning the entire thing. This also extends to his DJ sets. Over the course of the evening we are treated to Mr Scruff interweaving James Bond theme tunes (‘Diamonds are Forever’ instantly recognisable, though another is played whose name escapes), old school hip hop in the shape of Grandmaster Flash’s ‘White Lines’, what sounds like improv jazz, bossa nova, lots of broken beat, soul and reggae (the themes musically that reappeared over the course of the set). He also throws in some jungle and dancehall and a dubstep / drum&bass half an hour. All these various styles of music are incorporated into the set and interspersed with his own songs, finishing on a simply glorious ‘Music Takes Me Up’. It’s every bit as surprising as you would have expected from a man who has his own tea stall at every show he plays (which, if you’re interested, does a banging Mint & Chilli blend). The main theme of tonight though, ignoring all the various musical routes and journeys traversed aurally was the sense of fun underpinning all the songs played. Every song received a fervent reaction from the adulating crowd, whether they knew it or not: there was a trust that Scruff knew what he was doing and everyone followed the instructions given by the frequently laugh-out-loud funny visuals that accompanied him.

Seeing Mr Scruff won’t be a life changing event for anyone who attended tonight. What it will be is one of the most uplifting, fun nights that they’ll have had for a bloody long while. And who can ask for more than that?

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