Gogol Bordello are one of those bands where you either liked, or you LOVE them and get their lyrics and logo tattooed on your body, although plenty of the crowd did. This was my first time seeing them live but I was not prepared for the love in that was about to happen right in front of me.
Dave Hause and the Mermaids had warmed the crowd up suitable with their infectious brand of punk. But this was nothing compared to the how pumped the gathered throng was when Eugene Hutz and his travelling band of minstrels took to the stage. The set was kicked off with ‘Break into Your Higher Self’. This was a high energy does of gypsy punk that exploded out of the traps, with shredding guitars, and transformed the crowd into a slathering, frenzied mod in seconds. One thing that was surprising was how the crowd immediately formed a mosh-pit and started slam dancing. ‘Not a Crime’ and ‘Wonderlust King’ were up next and followed the same blueprint, and the same response was delivered, the seething crowd went wild and danced like this was the last night on earth.
As the set continued, the gig began to start to resemble a religious event. Members of the crowd started shaking and convulsing, while chanting along with the lyrics. As Hutz ratchetted up the tension and the crowd lapped it up and fed him to deliver more and more intensity with his performance. When they broke into ‘Alcohol’ everyone thrust, and threw, their glasses to the ceiling, and the band reciprocated by toasting the crowd back. This was followed by ‘Love Gangsters’, with its catchy melodies and social commentary lyrics. ‘Trans-Continental Hustle’ came up next. This was surprising as it was my favourite track from the album of the same name. After this, the band launched into a series of songs that had a strong political message ‘Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)’, ‘Mishto!’, ‘Seekers and Finders’ and ‘Baro Foro’ all rolled off their collective tongues to the crowds collective approval.
The highlight of the night was when Gogol Bordello launched into ‘Start Wearing Purple’. This was the reason the majority of the crowd had come. From the opening notes Hutz and co had the crowd exactly where they wanted them. They were so where Hutz wanted them that during an instrumental breakdown, he brought out his drum and the crowd supported and carried him aloft with pride and honour. This is the power of Gogol. They can make a crowd do something they didn’t expect, like dance shoeless, as I saw first-hand, carry the singer in a drum above the crowd or take a beer shower when instructed from the stage. After ‘Start Wearing Purple’ finished the set took a slight nose dive, how couldn’t it? It wasn’t that the crowd didn’t care anymore, but there was a feeling of “Well, how can they top this?” Individually none of the songs matched the fun and excitement of ‘Start Wearing Purple’, but combined they just equalled it. The set finished with ‘Think Locally, Fuck Globally’, which pretty much summed up their entire ethos.
Gogol Bordello are a band that know how to put on a show. They know exactly what to do to lift the crowd, the precise song to lower the energy and when is the exact moment to play ‘Start Wearing Purple’. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but they managed to with ease and grace. On the walk home it occurred to me that this might have been one of the most fun gigs I’d been to in a while. And this is what Gogol Bordello do, night after night, and this is a reason why they’ve got to where they are. Next time they hit your town, do yourself a favour and catch them live!
Gogol Bordello are touring the UK this December and their new album ‘Seekers and Finders’ is out on the 25th August 2017