Gig review: Gogol Bordello at Leeds Beckett Student Union, Leeds

Gogol Bordello
Gogol Bordello
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“There ain’t no party like a gypsy party ‘cause a gypsy party don’t stop!” chants Pedro Erazo. Gogol Bordello’s percussionist isn’t technically correct, with the venue’s 11pm curfew ending the revelry, but his sentiment is certainly true.

A well oiled touring machine, the New York nine-piece seem to be in no hurry to leave the stage, singing happy birthday to accordionist Pasha Newmer and taking multiple group bows even after the houselights are switched back on.

Their infectious energy nonetheless lends the show a communal spirit, with the ecstatic audience holding aloft a marching band drum during ‘Baro Foro’ on which frontman Eugene Hütz crouches, a bouquet of flowers dangling in his crotch and his lanky frame sheened in sweat. For any other act this would be the culmination of the show but here it seems designed to counter any mid-set tiredness.

It’s this feel good atmosphere that’s sustained their cult fan-base a decade after their commercial peak, which culminated in Hütz and violinist Sergey Ryabtsev appearing on stage with Madonna in 2007. Taken with their gypsy punk and copious alcohol consumption – Newmer pouring beer down Boris Pelekh’s neck during a particularly involved guitar part on ‘Mishto!’ – comparisons with The Pogues are inevitable.

They may draw on Eastern European rather than Celtic folk, which reflects the heritage of many of the band members, but they share a rejection of musical purity. This means that they gleefully add a touch of dub to ‘Ultimate’, some drunken Zorba the Greek to ‘Wonderlust King’, and spaghetti western to ‘Trans-Continental Hustle’.

They’re equally forward looking with their lyrics, which tackle immigration and globalisation while scorning the past’s rose-tinted spectacles. “There was never any good old days/They are today,” they affirm at one point, in a sentiment that’s clearly shared by many in the audience who are having the time of their lives.

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