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A Where2sing.com exclusive Karaoke Gig Review

Covent Garden Hotel karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

REVIEW: Sunday in Sydney


It might be that you're stuck in Sydney on a Sunday, and take the opportunity to enjoy the karaoke offerings of that night.

And, limiting your enjoyment to those venues within the city, you stop by an Internet Cafe and check out the W2S listings. I did. I found 3 listings within easy reach of each other, and although I have been to all three venues before, I looked forward to the diversity of entertainment style.

Of course, no self-respecting karaoker misses the 5pm start at Chinatown's Covent Garden, perhaps partly because it's only a few steps from a multitude of great eating places. Though, at 5pm, the Covent Garden has a generally very relaxed start to karaoke - the diehards not making it in till a bit later. At this hour of the night, or rather the afternoon, the mall outside is still busy with tourists gazingly hungrily at street cafes, and it's only a few curious souls who peer in at the karaoke, or even venture in for a drink or to watch.

But by about 7, the singing has become constant, a few regular faces having made it in. I haven't been there for quite some while, so I warrant a greeting from both Mark the techie, and the immaculately dressed KJ, Jimmy. I'm delighted to see that the two songlists are exactly the same as a year ago, and I'm unsure whether some of the patrons have moved position in that time. The Covent Garden is in a time warp - forever locked into 1990s karaoke. But as a result, some of the singers are extremely good, and very few is dreadful.

It's only a short stroll up the mall, then right about a block, to reach Scruffy Murphy's. But I continue past, because a couple of blocks away is The Crown on the end of Elizabeth Street, and that is also listed for Sundays. The general lack of interest in this karaoke by both the venue management and competent singers means that it is easy for the listing to be at variance with actuality, and I'm unsurprised to see a sign on the outside of the building proclaiming 'Sundays - karaoke 7pm' but not the sound of such coming from within.

You'd think, from the mid-town position of this pub, that it would be a triving business - but having watched it struggle to make intelligent decisions about its karaoke in the past, I suspect it is forever to remain one of those places past which most people walk. Wisely.

Returning to Scruffy Murphy's near the corner with George Street, I see a large 'bouncer' lounging against one of the two doorways, and looking in, and I hear the highly distorted sound of karaoke for which Scruffys has become infamous.

The bar service is surly. The schooner of beer is $5. The atmosphere is 'backpacker'.

As befits a place of this social classlessness, Papa Frank is spinning slowly at the front of the room and just near the stage - although 'spin' suggests a speed of movement somewhat faster than the almost fifteen seconds it takes for him to gyrate. I look for his friend, Big Bopper, but he is nowhere to be seen. The drag queen hosting the karaoke chimes in at the end of another dreadful singer's song, shepherds her off the stage, and makes lengthy mention of Papa Frank's amazing ability to stay alive well into his 88th year.

Let me say now that I find Scruffys remarkably unappealing, but that does not mean that they don't run a particularly successful business - with longstanding karaoke. I've seen more drag queens than I could ever wish for, and heard all the foulmouthed jokes several more times than I would ever want. Doreen is pretty representative of the genre, but perhaps more professional than many - I've seen her in a different venue hosting karaoke, and found her there to be polite, engaging, witty, and a good singer.

But we're at Scruffys, and vulgar humour is the order of the day. Dreadful sound is also the requisite here, and I'm standing directly under a speaker that's hanging off the ceiling and sounding extremely rattly and distorted - the way I've never heard an EV speaker sounding before. I move to another equally damaged speaker, and am happy to report that the sound quality is amazingly balanced around the entire rooom. Balanced and bad.

Papa Frank heads between the tables on a mission to the bar, and rather than skirting these objects, he makes a beeline whilst it's up to those is his path to move out of his way. He looks almost too frail to make it another step, but of course this is an act intended for those who will never see the speed he can attain outside the venue and when he believes no one is watching.

Papa . . .(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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