Mr Scruff in London

  • Published
    10 Nov 2011
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  • If Andy Carthy has anything to say for himself, you'll surely hear it best in his marathon "around the world in six hours" sets. It was such a night as this that I stopped off at the Mornington Crescent tube station opposite club KOKO, where Manchester's hero in waiting would be behind the controls all until 3 AM. KOKO's "rouge-chic" architecture lends an antique, elegant and cosy grandeur to the evening, supporting his enterprise expertly. Mr Scruff placed himself on centre stage, flanked by projector screens that periodically provided humourous and imaginative clips of spiders, whales and strange potato-men. The tiered balconies above and classical statues, acting as pillars suggested that figures like Scruff now stand alongside older, great forms of theatre and dance performances. The audience was welcomed in with Latin, jazz and generally upbeat grooves that provided a pleasant invigorating atmosphere to match the vimto-coloured mood. The evening progressed to more rolling, thrumming African rhythms, then making the eventual connection to hip-hop, which provided an interesting, if not a little confusing lull in the night. But it was not long before the classics were cranked out. "It's Dancing Time" heralded the last golden 90 minutes of his set, which blended together all the styles of the evening, layered out over clattering drum beats and a ribcage-rattling arrangement of low frequency sounds. The crowd, which had been relatively settled until this point, got moving. The shoving, pushing and "'scuse me"s gave way to communal moving in time to contemporary beats and rhythms with a fresh and strong feeling to them. Overall, the feeling was house and techno, but not without frequent diversions. A trip to the smoker's area—an exotically decorated balcony overlooking the main road—yielded an interesting discovery: Mr Scruff's night had drawn an exceptionally diverse crowd to KOKO. Walking past chattering groups of well dressed 20-somethings, I heard Spanish, French, Danish, Japanese and a couple of Eastern European languages I couldn't quite discern. It's my conclusion that this particular mix of genres from around the world opens up clubbing and socialising to a much wider variety of music lovers. As such, if you can bear to rub the funds together for typical London club prices because you enjoy diversity, friendliness and enough bass to level the Taj Mahal, then let the man with the scruffy beard be your captain for the evening.