Gogol Bordello

Koko London on Thu 6th Jul 2006

Gogol Bordello’s arrival on Koko’s stage is a surreptitious affair. In amongst the venue’s bedecked scenery – glitzy chandeliers, gold-tarnished balconies and luxuriant deep purple walling – the New York-via-Ukraine Gypsy Punk troupe skulk onstage like timid stowaways. It’s not the entrance you’d expect from such a famously wild group, and as they open with the creeping ‘Immigrant Punk’, their stealthy behaviour is a curious matter. Three minutes later and not a lot has changed – the lights are still dim, the crowd are feeling deflated and the band stand with poise that has something to hide.

Then, BANG! Gogol Bordello drop the front and the Ghetto Carnival begins. Violinist and Billy Connolly look-a-like, Sergey Ryabtzev, plays bow to the string like a strongman lifts weights, with muscle that beats the crowd into feverish idolatry fist-pumping, before underdog ring-leader, Eugene Hütz unleashes his vocal bray on the utterly thrilling ‘I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again’. Gogol Dancers raid the stage and run loose like prisoners escaping power’s iron grip, emitting siren wails into the microphone that shake the abashed London crowd, caught up in the lawless chaos.

From hereon for an hour and a half, anarchy rules. Hütz rallies the crowd like a social revolutionary, so even on the wonderfully eccentric ‘Start Wearing Purple’, his calls seem profound and affecting. Climbing on the crowd at every opportunity, the vision on stage is one of undulating vitality that’s a snapshot of life away from the stiff developed West. It’s unsurprising they’re such a hit, they romanticise a different way of life that’s inspiring and escapist for a weighed-under British audience.

Accordion solos, crowd chants and fire-bucket percussion interludes are brewed into the volatile mix, to make Gogol Bordello the most thrilling musical alchemists currently around. ‘Dogs Were Barking’ is a wild allusion to a foreign world where dirt rules, whilst ‘Think Locally, Fuck Globally’ asserts a way of life that’ll overturn greed to a polka beat. Amazing stuff.

Leaving the venue, gritty Camden seems positively stale. Gogol Bordello are campaigning for an Underdog World Strike and after the excitement and intensity of their show, it’s hard not to want to support them until the end.

article by: Alex Hoban

published: 09/07/2006 10:55

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