4th July | O2 Academy
A bordello (brothel in Italian) is referred to in English criminal law as a ‘disorderly house’. If you’ve ever witnessed Eugene Hütz and his gypsy punk, noisenik comrades, Gogol Bordello, you’ll understand quite how disorderly the O2 Academy became on Tuesday night. Bringing their intense, delirious back catalogue to Bristol and a taste of their forthcoming album, Seekers and Finders, due for release on 25th August, the Gogol Bordello experience was distinctly multi-sensory, with theatrically visual, visceral performances from the stage and sweaty bedlam down at floor level.
The New Yorkers have infiltrated Western popular culture since 1999 with infectious Eastern European influences. Hütz mesmerised the audience, stalking the front of the stage, spilling charisma, and most of a bottle of red wine, over the audience, like a madcap hybrid of Frank Zappa and Nigel from The Wild Thornberrys. He arrived, impractically clad in a black jacket, soon giving way to just an unbuttoned shirt that quickly reached saturation point itself. By the time he surfed the crowd, singing ‘Baro Foro’ – kneeling, then standing atop a big bass drum, the shirt had been removed, the way most of us might have dealt with our sodden clothing, had we not been rubbing up against randomers in a darkened room. Violinist Sergey Ryabtsev, looking like a mini Mick Fleetwood, was Hütz’s principal partner in chaos, rabble-rousing us into numerous fist-pumping “Hey! Hey! Hey!” chants. Pasha Newmer’s solo on ‘Not a Crime’ was possibly the punkiest accordion you’ve ever heard. The band were frequently up close and personal from the monitors at the front of the stage, apart from Alfredo Ortiz on drums, who kept the timebomb ticking metronomically from the rear.
They appeared on the big screen in the 2005 film, Everything Is Illuminated, to which they contributed the manic ‘Start Wearing Purple’, originally a cuss from Hütz to his girlfriend when she began to act like their crazy neighbour. “Start wearing toecaps” was the note to self when the crowd bounce went mental and co-ordination/restraint lessened, the more people’s grip on reality was blissfully surrendered. At least the building owners can rest assured that its structural integrity was firmly tested during those few minutes. Gogol Bordello’s madness is artful and thoughtful too. In April, they played a gig, sailing around New York Harbour, to raise money for ACLU, who fight for immigrant rights, and in tribute to their own forebears, who sought better lives in America. Tonight, their Ecuadorean MC, Pedro Erazo, led ‘Immigraniada’, another set highlight, preaching peace, love and unity, which the audience fully reciprocated.
Just before the encore, Hütz announced, “If it was up to us, we’d be here until four in the morning.” That they had to stop did seem purely a nod to licensing and collective hydration levels. On ‘Alcohol’, they sang, “Just to thank you one more time for everything you’ve done.” Such is the buoyant joy at the end of a Gogol Bordello show that you do feel like embracing your fellow revellers and heading off somewhere with new friends to nail some celebratory vodkas, but in reality you ming so grievously from the sweatfest that you simply need to head home and contemplate the unworldly contrast of having to be in work in nine hours’ time.
If you haven’t already, seek Gogol Bordello and you shall find what your life has been lacking lately – unless you’ve been short of a bit of peace and quiet, that is.
Check out ‘Start Wearing People’ below.