Monday, 10 July 2017

Gogol Bordello - Leeds Beckett University, 5th July 2017 (LIVE REVIEW)


"...Gogol Bordello’s main set completes 80 minutes of high octane gypsy punk, clearly demonstrating their absolute mastery of the live performance, yet these guys still have something in the tank for a three song encore..."


This incendiary live band first caught my attention several years ago whilst watching Auntie’s footage of that year’s Glastonbury. To me they seemed like an Eastern European incarnation of The Pogues, (despite the band first coming together in Manhattan) a terrifically ramshackle performance blending folk, gypsy, reggae, samba and punk, firmly endearing them to the Worthy Farm revellers, leaving yours truly with the firm intention of catching one of their shows when the opportunity presented itself.

Unsurprisingly, Gogol’s live exploits have enabled them to build a sizeable cult following, resulting in a pretty full Leeds Beckett, despite the availability of some tickets on the night. For those late chance attendees, it was certainly money well spent as the atmosphere was positively electric come stage time.

As seven band members launch into opener ‘Break into Your Higher Self’, sending everyone bonkers, my first impression is we’re in doppelganger heaven here. Moustachioed Ukrainian frontman Eugene Hutz, swigging from a bottle of red, resembles a barber avoiding Begbie, fiendishly gifted Russian violinist Sergey Ryabtsev could easily pass for Mick Fleetwood’s stunt double. It doesn’t end there as Belorussian accordionist Pasha Newman, when hanging up his aerated instrument for the last time, might make a decent living opening sports centres in the North West, standing in for the former England captain when he has a better offer, whereas hulking Californian drummer Alfredo Ortiz, masked by hat and gangsta shades would be first on my list to play the Bond villain’s menacing sidekick should they ever consider a remake of Goldfinger.

Following a breakneck opening brace, the ‘Dello are further augmented by a pair of backing singers, just in time for everyone’s favourite ‘Wanderlust King’, the world and his wife singing along to every word. There’s no let-up either, one song seguing into another at frenetic pace, ‘My Campanjera’, ‘Alcohol’, ‘Love Gangsters’ all fly by, sending the temperature soaring; up on the rear balcony, it feels hotter than the sun. By now both backing vocalists are adorned with huge single bass drums complete with catapult insignia, one of which is then deployed as a plinth for the frontman to indulge in a bit of crowd surfing on ‘Baro Foro’. Surprisingly, the drum skin easily supports Eugene’s admittedly lithe frame, a carpet of raised hands effortlessly gliding Hutz across his adoring disciples, the band then launching into a rousing rendition of debut album classic ‘Start Wearing Purple’.

Gogol Bordello’s main set completes 80 minutes of high octane gypsy punk, clearly demonstrating their absolute mastery of the live performance, yet these guys still have something in the tank for a three song encore, culminating in ‘Thing Locally, Fuck Globally’, a fitting end with two fingers firmly raised to globalisation; the nine band members finally leaving the stage to Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’, the now departing yet still euphoric throng, assisting with their voices one last time.

Wonderful Cossack carnage!

Words - Mike Price

Gogol Bordello is Eugene Hütz (Vocals/Guitar), Sergey Ryabtsev (Violin), Thomas Gobena (Bass), Pedro Erazo-Segovia (Vocals/Percussion), Pasha Newmerzhitsky (Accordion), Boris Pelekh (Guitar), Alfredo Ortiz (Drums), Pamela Racine (Vocals/Percussion), and Vanessa Walters (Vocals/Percussion). 

Seekers and Finders
 will be released on August 25, 
2017 via Cooking Vinyl.  Pre-orders available now here.