Saturday, May 15, 2010
Gogol Bordello, Mariachi El Bronx Manchester Academy 1, 08th May 2010
Like result of an test tube experiment to combine the seed of Joe Strummer and Shane MacGowan, Ukrainian ex-pat Eugene Hutz is onstage, messianic, fuelled by the booze, and the centre of a huge party.
The guitar-wielding singer is the consummate performer, and he and his fellow musicians certainly know how to put on a show. Having come to this venue for over 15 years, I’ve never seen the crowds as loud or as raucous as they are for Gogol Bordello, a rag-tag band of gypsies who first got together 10 years ago in New York to play a cosmopolitan blend of their own traditional gypsy music, mixed with ska, rap, punk, and rock music. In recent years, the band recent decamped to Brazil, adding the Latin sounds of that continent to their influences.
When they first emerged, there was nothing like them, but in the decade since, the internationalism of music has reached new heights, with the likes of Foals and Vampire Weekend reaching out to embrace African music, while Damon Albarn writes Chinese monkey operas.
Things have changed for Gogol Bordello too. ‘Trans-Continental Hustle’ their new album is also their major label debut, and sees legendary label man / studio geek Rick Rubin on production duties, as the band move in a more commercial direction with the aim of reaching out to fans.
On tonight’s display, there is no faulting the band’s live credentials. The 8 piece band move about the stage frantically, changing gears at just the right time between tempos.
Songs like Wonderlust King and Ultimate provide high octane, pogoing thrills for those at the front, while ‘When Universes Collide’ and ‘Sun Is On My Side’ with its’ Latino blues, provide balladry and soothing acoustic sounds for those at the back. Meanwhile, ‘My Companjera’ is a love song almost sounds like what ABBA would do if they were a gypsy folk outfit.
Not just music for the heart, it’s angry, intelligent and political music too, railing against the injustices of the system, and the mistreatment and hatred of immigrants as the hard-rocking riffing of Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher) demonstrates. Hutz wears his immigrant roots on his sleeve.
Indeed, it’s no surprise that the band will be supporting Rage Against The Machine at their X-Factor payback gig in London next month, and were partly discovered by the agit-rockers in the beginning. Gogol Bordello are the natural successors to their angry, unifying music, and the logicial conclusion of their genre-bending – RATM were devastating and unique when they emerged for their convergence of rock and rap, but their heirs take things further and add many more kinds of music to the melting pot. If he was around, Joe Strummer would be proud.