From the birthday card animations to the wavy electro-swing that permeated the streets, it became apparent that Mr Scruff was in town last Saturday. As part of the NightVision series of electronic sets, La Belle Angèle was proud to host this true legend. The venue had been building up the anticipation right up until the last minutes, boasting on Facebook a whopping 500kg deck set-up Mr Scruff had brought up for the occasion.
The set was a fluid combination of textures, testament to Scruff’s extensive and eclectic record collection. It was a treat to see his excitement as he flicked through them, pulling one out from time to time, spinning it and slapping it on the decks with fervour for the duration of the night. Refusing to rest on his laurels, Mr Scruff (a.k.a Andy Carthy) teased the audience up until the very end, transitioning from classic hip-hop to the speeds of footwork and back down again without breaking a sweat. That was left for the audience, who were evidently getting their cardio in for the week.
Any sense of time went out the window during the five-hour set, extended by an unexpected Daylight Savings manouevre, lulled by Scruff’s own hypnotic works like ‘Music Takes Me Up’. The visuals took the audience with them: pulsating squiggles of spiders and spud-like figures with speech marks of “waiter there’s a bass line in my soup.” All of a sudden, a beat came thick and fast, accompanied by big band saxophone and trumpets blaring, together with the added magic touch from Mr Scruff’s nimble fingers. Throughout his set, he seamlessly slipped in pieces of his own, instantly pricking the ears of those who knew Carthy as more than just a DJ and lover of quirky, cheerfully oblong characters, like his 2010 collaboration track with Kirsty Almeida, ‘Pickled Spider’.
Even to the very end, the energy in the crowd was apparent – through Roots Manuva’s ‘Witness The Fitness’ (a tribute to the endurance of his solo five-hour set), later followed by the warming bass of Lou Reed’s ‘Walk On The Wild Side’. It is no lie that the excitement was overwhelming for all around; a wave of hugs between sweaty people sharing this moment in perfect serenity. Never has it been so appropriate to embrace a drenched Hawaiian-shirted man next to me with perfect glee and without a second thought. The golden lights created an ethereal atmosphere, which Lou Reed could very well have been among.
Feigning his exit at the end of the song, it did not take much persuasion for the return of a final piece of Madness: the trumpets marked the beginning of ‘One Step Beyond’, turning the dance floor into something resembling a Benny Hill episode of ecstatic people, yoked on by the spin doctor. The entire recorded set is available here, password is angele.