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Scruffy Murphys Hotel karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

Scruffy Murphys Hotel

Leaving Sydney's Oxford Street, as wise people do, and heading down into the city you cross with George Street, pretty much the centre of the action....

And, turning left and along about a block, you come to the next crossroads where an Irish pub is stuffed into the bottom of an old building on the corner.

It's not immediately obvious as a pub, but it does become so on Sunday evenings when most local shops are closed and the unmistakable and often unharmonious sound of singing warns of a karaoke night. Every few minutes, one voice rises above all others (well, two, if you count Broni) and strikes fear into all who avoid those clad in dresses and high heels and who are extremely tall - but more of that later.

For this is Scruffy Murphy's Irish Pub, the haunt of backpackers and others who view a good time as drinking far too much and later spewing on the pavement whilst being carried off by friends. But this is no ordinary Sunday evening karaoke at Scruffy's, for it is the grand final of their constantly running competition, and I am here because I am told to be here.

It's early, and I am sober, and I'm watching carefully for the likes of Papa Frank and Adriana, both whom should come with a Government Heath Warning, or at the very least not until the third beer or so. But as I wander in one of the many doors, respectfully elbowing a security guy out of the way as he watches those inside seemingly daring them to escape, I see no one I know. The service at the bar is very Irish, surprisingly surly, and pricey. But now, in the far opposite corner and close to the mixing console at the end of the stage, I can see Broni and Natalie, who are both here to compete.

Natalie is a stunning, slim, tall, long dark-haired girl with a delicate and beautifully proportioned face and delightful smile who, for those very reasons as well as her fabulous voice, commands huge respect on every karaoke stage. Broni is loud but classy; Broni told me so just yesterday. And I'm introduced to the new love in her life, an ex-Oxford Street conquest, and to his mate, and Broni's two sons, and friends, and ... well, you get the idea.

Irish pubs have a habit of being newly manufactured old, but this is the authentic thing. If the toilets were not being refurbished and therefore out of action, you'd have been able to locate them by sense of smell alone, and the one big room has been decorated by adding the posters, banners and flags of every brewery promotion going without caring to remove those preceding. Big square columns and shoulder height partitions succeed in separating the middle slice of the room from the two side areas, with the band-sized stage at one end, and an Irish sized bar across the other. If you need, there is a completely different kind of bar underneath this, but on this Sunday only this main bar was open.

Normally you should expect pretty dreadful sound at Scruffy's, mainly because new speakers are obviously added as required without earlier casualties being removed - all well and fine if you're a band with your own PA but not terrific if you're a karaoke company that chooses to use speakers appropriate to a Sony Walkman. And you should also expect a young female console operator with a fabulous voice and extremely little concern about mixing.

What you might not expect are Doreen Manganini and Monique Kelly, for they are your highly vocal hosts for the night, equipped with huge breasts that only men would choose to use, and with the language that your mother definitely wouldn't. But, having seen Doreen host elsewhere in a completely different manner, I understand that she, or rather he, performs in the style desired by her, or rather his, audience. But I rarely attend.

The 6:30 start drags out to 7:30, and we are told that there will be a warm-up time - though it turns out to largely be a warm up segment for the drag-queens. And then we're into the competition grand final.

You can tell competition chasers - they look out of place. And, here, you also had the feeling that half of those competing were strangers even to the hosts, for their lewd and insulting comments were slightly subdued. And, perhaps, there is the hugely impressive but also the rather uninteresting performance of those who trot out the same carefully rehearsed songs and movements in karaoke competitions all over the region.

But there were also a couple of bona fide regulars, indeed backpackers and dressed as such, having a shot at the $2000 first prize on offer. . . .(full story on where2sing.com)


Read the rest of this exclusive Karaoke Gig Review, and find whether this karaoke gig is still running on Where2sing.com . . .

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