Review and Photography by Mark Loraine.

Leeds on the 5th of July was thronged with gig-goers, mostly for some band called Blink 182, but the more discerning music fan (sorry Blink fans) headed not to the vast shed of the Arena, rather they were popping along to what was about to become the sweatiest place on the planet to listen to some Ukrainian Gypsy Punks do their stuff. Yes, Gogol Bordello were in town!

Gogol Bordello

But first, chance to catch up with a band that I had seen only last week in the company of the Dropkick Murphys, The Living End. This band hail from Australia and are in Europe for what seems like the Summer. It would seem that they came at the wrong time however as the first words from the frontman’s mouth was a bit of a down on the warm English beer. Now I didn’t drink that night, but he could have very well been right. As everything, and I mean everything was warm to boiling that night.

The Living EndThe Living End

The Living End

The Living End resemble a rockabilly band in every way, except perhaps for the music ! The bass player has a fabulous double bass that gets slapped to within an inch of its life and the guitarist/frontman sports the most iconic of rock n roll guitars in the form of a Gretsch White Falcon. This isn’t the only resemblance to AC/DC for this band, in fact their songs seem to have a spattering of DC riffs spread liberally across them – which is no bad thing.

The set is short, energetic and primes the crowd for what is to come. The swathe of humanity in the dark hole that is the Student Union is now at a point where they appear to be melting and so it was time for the mighty Gogol Bordello to take the stage.

If you have never seen GB then you are in for a surprise of sorts, mainly that the lead singer, Eugene Hutz looks like Catweazle (old reference – sorry) on speed and the fact that there are 8 other members of the band equally charged up and ready to go.; This means that from the very second they appear on stage to the completion of what is a frenetic set, they never, ever stop moving. Using fiddles, accordion, big bass drum (I think there may be a song in there somewhere – another old reference – google Terry Wogan) they generate a sound that makes you move, makes you dance and looking at the crowd tonight makes you totally insane with a wish to bounce off not just the walls, but the ceiling as well.

Gogol BordelloGogol Bordello

The whole atmosphere of this bands performance reflects a circus performance from hell and although it is superbly intricate and complex music it does lend itself to a dance and it is a hell of a lot of fun to witness. Playing tracks from pretty much all of their albums, they include ones that are not so often heard to ones that are instantly recognisable to even the less than avid fan, ‘Pala Tute’ and ‘y Companjera’ being my particular favourites. They do of course also urge you to ‘Start Wearing Purple’ (I was – I have seen them before) but what Gogol Bordello gig would be complete without it.

I am not sure that Gogol Bordello intended to play for nigh on two hours, but they did and when the time came for encores, the crowd had turned the whole room into one huge mosh-pit. I was going to join in, but a) I had my camera and b) I’m really old.

So as I mentioned earlier, Gogol Bordello weren’t the only band in town tonight but I for one was glad that I witnessed a masterly performance of Ukrainian Gypsy Punk at its finest in a sweaty room as opposed to a vast arena. No contest I am pleased to say, no contest.

The Living End Setlist
Roll On
Second Solution
Hold Up
How Do We Know
Who’s Gonna Save Us?
Prisoner of Society
West End Riot

Gogol Bordello Setlist
Break into Your Higher Self
Not a Crime
Wonderlust King
Saboteur Blues
Burning Coal
My Companjera
Love Gangsters
Trans-Continental Hustle
Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)
Seekers and Finders
Baro Foro
Start Wearing Purple
Pala Tute
Sacred Darling

We Did it All
Think Locally, F*** Globally

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