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GOGOL BORDELLO/MARIACHI EL BRONX @ MANCHESTER ACADEMY 08/05/10 BY MEL

Great expectations from Gogol Bordello were the order of the day and they didn't disappoint us. It's a Saturday night, queuing early to get a good viewing platform. We're fourth in line, so it’s inevitable we are front row fodder. Failing to consider at this juncture how potentially lethal this could be. It's now 7.30pm, we are right in the firing line, central position, camera aimed to shoot.
It’s a sold out show and the hall gets packed quickly, a varied mixture of ages and types present.
 
Pretty soon a guy (according to the flyer) called Tres Leches (translated means milk cake) enters the stage. He is one of the Gogol Bordello posse, he spends the next half hour or so giving us a demonstration of scratching and tweaking reggae, dub style tunes. It’s not really my thang to be honest and I soon got bored as it seemed to last forever, besides the natives were now getting restless and the swaying could be felt.

Warming us up for the main act - we were treated to a band called Mariachi El Bronx (formerly called The Bronx) who strode on stage like a bunch of proud Mexican cowboys, with a flavour of The Gypsy Kings all the way from L.A. Suited and booted in black suits with decorative patterns, complete with the whole Mexican theme. To say I was surprised is an underestimation (but in a good way) and wondered what we had in store. As it turned out what we witnessed was a lively, passionate bunch of guys, the audience loved them, and they were certainly big crowd pleasers. I didn’t know any of the songs - ashamedly hadn’t heard of the band, but have since been researching. They have recently changed their style of music, departing from hardcore punk/rock music to Mariachi. I should of known as I spotted several tattoos peeking out of the singers  neck.

Mariachi is a genre of music originating from Mexico, incorporating violins, trumpets, acoustic guitar, a vihuela, guitarrón, occasionally harp. brass, wind, and percussion instruments. The singer dedicated a song to all the coke heads in the crowd – their songs deal with outsiders with songs like 'Cellmates, 'My Brother The Gun 'Clown Powder' and 'knifeman'. Matt Caughthran the singer, made no bones about loving the city of Manchester, to which erupted a roar of approval. They were certainly very fresh and different and I for one loved them, besides Matt had the most wonderful beaming smile, you couldn't help be drawn in. I had to download the album on itunes the very next day and playing it repeatedly.

www.myspace.com/thebronx

Mariachi El Bronx - Holy from Our Videos on Vimeo.

Here's my video from the night- with a long chat to the audience, a wonderful rapport. It's hard to believe these guys also deliver hardcore punk.

We didn’t have too long to wait before Gogol Bordello bounded onto the stage, one by one. The crowd went mental as they burst into a track from their album "Super Taranta!" - Ultimate’. Dressed in a combination of wayward ragamuffin, punk, gypsy's – lock up your daughters and run for the hills. These guys looked set to rape and pillage Manchester tonight! Singer Ukrainian born Eugene Hütz, the tall, skinny one, with a large moustache is a cross between Frank Zappa and a 70's porn star, he is certainly the catalyst, the one who you can't tear your eyes away from, he oozes sensuality. If he isn't darting from one side of the stage to the other, then he's offering his bottle of red or swinging his guitar around, in-between his wide eyed theatrical posturing. He strums his guitar like a maniac, kitted out in red jeans and checked shirt, a catapult symbol hanging around his neck, soon he was dripping with sweat and bare chested.The rest of the motley crew all equally own the stage, with Sergey Ryabtsev, the crazy majestic violinist, and the symbol clashing, all-dancing Elizabeth Sun, the accordion player Yuri Lemeshev, resplendent in zipped bondage style attire , who kept standing in front of us and smiling sweetly.

Gogol Bordello are:Eugene Hütz - Vocals, Oren Kaplan - Guitar, Sergey Ryabtsev - Violin, Yuri Lemeshev - Accordion, Elizabeth Sun - Percussion, dance, Thomas 'Tommy T' Gobena - Bass, Pedro Erazo - Percussion, MC, Oliver Charles - Drums.

The band from the word go, are high energy, dramatic and give a performance which remained faultless, racing around at the speed of light. No one can accuse them of not giving out a good time to one and all, this crazy bunch know how to fucking party!!  The band obviously get a real buzz out of the audiences reaction, which fires them off to produce such a frenetic pace. It almost feels like your in a Romany gypsy gathering, expecting to get snatched out of the audience at any given moment and invited to dance alongside. During the more danceable tracks such as 'Pala Tute' the audience went bananas, hands flaying over head and dancing around like wild beasts. Me? - I couldn't move a muscle, I got head butted, hair pulled, squashed against the barrier and water flung over me. I scanned the crowd behind me, many faces were transfixed with expressions of psychotic proportions. Such is the power of GB! No wonder their shows are always sold out.

 

I was locked in a position I couldn’t move, let alone breathe at times, it’s hardly surprising I managed any photos at all. Regardless of my situation I endeavoured to continue clicking on the shutter, but failed to capture a single video. During 'Start Wearing Purple' again it kicked off, with frenzied singing from the crowd, guys dragged out overhead, swaying and dancing. At one point in the proceedings Pedro was so overcome by the enthusiasm he threw his drum out into the throng, he then dived headlong into the sweating masses, carried along for a while. 'Immigraniada' was another as the song said - "we are coming rougher everytime"- and the crowd followed suit!

They returned for an encore bringing a much slower pace with tracks from the new album 'Trans - Continental Hustle' -  with 'Sun Is On My Side' Eugene on top form, showing his gentler side, with Parisian strains of the accordion, but then burst into 'Trans - Continental Hustle', culminating in the sensual cords of 'Baro Foro' from their album 'Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony' (interestingly I heard it described as a musical orgasm).

Setlist:
Intro
Ultimate
Not A Crime
Wonderlust King
Companjera
Tribal
Mishto
Immigraniada
Break The Spell

Through The Roof
Pala Tute
Start Wearing Purple

Sun Is On My Side
Trans Continental Hustle
Baro Foro

Alcohol

This has to be the best that Manchester has witnessed for a very long time….and there was me thinking they just danced a bit on stage, they go fucking mental!! It's an immense bundle of fun, with a decent priced ticket, but next time I'll locate a safer place and go wild in the aisles. I now can't get 'Pala Tute' out of my head, those crazy rhythms are contagious.

www.myspace.com/gogolbordello 

Here's a taste of Gogol Bordello, a recent tame Jools Holland performance (don't be fooled by this exhibition, these guys are fierce live)

Review/photos by Mel- more photos here on Flickr