ARTIST: Gogol Bordello
VENUE: Leeds Metropolitan University
REVIEW BY: Katie Campling
THERE are some people in the world who just don’t dance in public.
So, when a band has even the most reluctant movers pogo-ing along in the midst of the crowd, you know they’re something special.
You don’t go to watch a Gogol Bordello gig – you go to get lost in the experience. Even those intending to stay as spectators get drawn into the fray.
Gogol Bordello may be from New York, but this band of eastern European immigrants haven’t lost touch with their roots – fusing traditional music with punk to create what can only be described as ‘gypsy punk’.
They put on a fearsome live show, injecting such energy into each song that it’s amazing they manage to continue for a whole set.
In fact, frontman and guitarist Eugene Hutz managed more than that – he joined support act The Rootsmen for some freestyling earlier in the night.
The Rootsmen provided a great warm-up, using their impressive vocal talents to get the crowd moving ready for the main event.
Gogol Bordello took the stage to be greeted by a venue that was literally packed full.
They opened the show with some newer material, but the audience danced to each track like an old favourite. The infectious rhythms even had those at the back of the crowd moving – no mean feat.
The excitement only grew as popular tracks like Undestructable, Start Wearing Purple, Alcohol and Think Locally got an airing.
Despite the frenzied pace of the songs and the ever-increasing heat in the venue, the band were tight and made the music-making look totally effortless. They have a huge stage presence – not choreographed but nonetheless with a touch of the theatrical, from Eugene’s ringmaster style moustache to the exotically-attired female cymbal players.
You certainly get the feeling that music isn’t just a profession for them but a way of life.
As the anarchy gathered pace, Eugene lost more and more of his garments and who could blame him – it was quite literally the hottest and sweatiest gig I have ever attended.
Only fiddle player Sergey Ryabatsev seemed to remain uncannily cool throughout – even during an encore which lasted a mammoth 20 minutes.
Despite being exhausted, the audience begged for more and probably would never have gone home if the band had not made their exit.
Other train users on the Leeds to Huddersfield route looked bewildered by an influx of dishevelled, excitable folk wearing Gogol Bordello T-shirts. But the gig-goers didn’t care, they’d had the night of their lives.