LIVE: Gogol Bordello @ Northern Lights, 4/1/11

Eugene Hutz
Eugene Hutz

Eugene Hutz is one damned magnetic frontman. Really.

He demands your attention. And he gets it.

Strumming his acoustic guitar as though it were a weapon, Hutz and his magnificent, trademark mustache – t-shirts available at the merch table were emblazoned with the slogan, “This Mustache Kills Fascists” – owned the sold-out crowd at Northern Lights even before they finished their opening blitz through “Tribal Connection.” Just four songs later during “Last One Goes the Hope,” he was already shirtless and sweating up a storm, as the mosh pit swirled in front of him. And by the time he ramped up “Start Wearing Purple,” he was stalking the stage like a tiger, bringing the night to a fever pitch with the microphone in one hand and a bottle of red wine in the other.

Of course, Hutz can’t do it all by himself. Well, actually, maybe he can, but he didn’t have to. Gogol Bordello is a cracker-jack band. Violinist Sergey Ryabtsev and accordionist Yuri Lemeshev put the Gypsy in the band’s potent Gypsy-punk sound, while drummer Oliver Charles, bassist Thomas Gobena and guitarist Oren Kaplan kept the riveting beat churning.

Pedro Erazo and Elizabeth Sun spiked the party onstage with percussion and backing vocals, but mostly they acted as cheerleaders, although the crowd didn’t need much encouragement to join in the frenzy.

“It’s fuckin’ ‘Mishto!’ time,” Hutz shouted during the generous string of encores, and the ballad-ish “Sun Is On My Side” gave way to the slamming new wave-dub-klezmer anthem slathered with reverb-drenched guitar twang.

The crowd wouldn’t let them go, and the band came back for a second round of encores. Appropriately enough, Hutz had drained his bottle of wine and was now being fueled by a pint of Guinness as he led his bandmates on a rousing, pub-pleasing romp through the Pogues’ “Dirty Old Town.”

Opening act Forro in the Dark added to the exotic global music spin with a 50-minute set that fused together Brazilian carnaval sounds with funk and jazz, led by flutist Jorge Continentino and percussionist Davi Vieira. The audience seemed hesitant at first, but by the time that Forro fired up “Nonsenical” – with a little help from Gogol Bordello’s rhythm section – the crowd was with them 100 percent, enthusiastically singing along with Vieira on the chorus, “If you don’t like Bob Marley, you’d better stay away from me.”

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Josh Potter’s review at Metroland
My other review at The Times Union
Excerpt from Brian McElhiney’s review at The Daily Gazette: “The band began in a more laid-back fashion with the reggae grooves of ‘Tribal Connection,’ starting the show a little after 9:30. Band leader Eugene Hütz was the primary focus throughout the evening, often using his acoustic guitar more as a prop than anything else, his antics pumping up the sweaty masses and, indeed, the other musicians onstage throughout. With ‘Not a Crime,’ one of the few songs the band played off 2005’s ferocious ‘Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike,’ the group really kicked into high gear. ‘Wonderlust King’ continued the high-energy slam-fest, with the traditional squirming mosh pit forming almost immediately and not letting up for the rest of the night.”

Tribal Connection
Not a Crime
Wonderlust King
Last One Goes the Hope
Immigraniada (We’re Comin’ Rougher)
Break the Spell
Raise the Knowledge
American Wedding
Start Wearing Purple
Sun Is On My Side
Dirty Old Town (the Pogues)

Gogol Bordello
Elizabeth Sun and Eugene Hutz
  1. Rob says

    Great show! I did nearly get knocked down once or twice on the fringes of the mosh pit — and I’m not sure if it was my sweat or that of other people I was covered with — but what a wild night.

  2. Kevin Marshall says

    Amazing show. Admittedly my familiarity with them started and ended with Hutz’s turn in “Everything is Illuminated” and the use of “Start Wearing Purple” over the ending credits, but man, I was hooked from the first song on.

    As for the opener: I dug them. The crowd’s hesitancy, and mine, waned when they shifted gears after the third(?) song. The beginning of the set put emphasis on the flute arrangements, which I thought sort of clashed and didn’t gel with everything else they were doing, with the band trying to do rock songs fronted by Continentino playing long, fluid notes. Ian Anderson’s flute works for Jethro Tull because he hits those notes hard and fast, making the flute fit in with the rock. Forro tried to make it work the other way around, with mixed results. The rest of their set, though, was great.

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