Gogol Bordello

support Man Man
author MN date 03/12/13 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Revered as one of the prime live acts of the past decade, Gogol Bordello have reached legendary status as a band that without fail always deliver a magnanimous performance with tact, energy and consistency. The first time I witnessed this gypsy-punk machine in action was at the Roskilde Festival in 2009 where the New-York based octet became the curious replacement act of Lil Wayne who for undecided reasons cancelled his performance. To the dismay of hip hop fans, but to the delight of anyone with a curious disposition, Gogol Bordello delivered a legendary Russian/Balkan inspired frenzy that had the entire front pits at the orange stage steaming in a cathartic bacchanalia under the embrace of midsummer sun. Second time I saw Bordello was at the live music events held at the climate conference in Copenhagen, aptly named Hopenhagen. Under vastly different climatic circumstances, Gogol Bordello performed at the city square in viciously cold weather. Neither the icy cooling effects of the Danish wind right into the bone marrow, or the side winded snow falling relentlessly could possibly put a damper on the party that I witnessed back in 2010. Needless to say, my expectations were astronomical upon arriving to Store Vega on Tuesday evening. To support Gogol Bordello, Philadelphia-based experimental band Man Man are set to open tonights festivities.

Man Man

My first impressions of Man Man were wrongfully prejudiced and along the lines of “who are these artsy-fartsy avant-garde nutters doing on stage wearing multi coloured costumes while playing a twerky blend of psychedelic rock complimented by strange yelps in unison”. After unshackling myself from the conservative absentminded side of myself, I realized that these guys were actually brilliant. Centered around piano/vocalist Honus Honus, the multi instrumentalist ensemble first caught my full attention by the awesome drumming by Pow Pow (Christopher Powell) and additionally the brass section during the song “Loot My Body” which had the crowd finally start to move around a bit. It’s apparent that the theatricality of their show holds high emphasis in their live gigs as Honus Honus spared no time in dressing up in immaculate costumes and caressing audience/security guards heads. Another highlight included “Head on (Hold On To Your Heart)” where Elizabeth Sun from Gogol Bordello joined in to provide some backing vocals. Man Man proved to be an interesting choice for an opener and a great display of musician ship.

Gogol Bordello

Gogol Bordello were ready to take the stage after a solid 40 minutes intermission. As Danish tradition dictates, any Balkan inspire show requires the crowd to get properly liquored up for the festivities, and as the band members walk on to the stage, the crowd roared with excitement. The energetic “We Rise Again” opened the night and the audience immediately started to mosh in the centre of the arena. A warm welcome was given under “Not A Crime” to Sergey Ryabtsev, a killer violinist with a charming presence. Eugene Hutz knocked up his energy level for the tracks “Wonderlust King”, a classic party starter. “Dig Deep Enough” portrayed a more nuanced Gogol Bordello as the background Mandolin playing provided tangy overtones to the classic punk backdrop. “The Other Side Of Rainbow” conjured up a contagious sing a long giving Celtic punk legends Dropkick Murphys a run for their money. It is clear that Gogol Bordello have stepped it up a notch in terms of influences, many of the tracks of their latest release may contain elements of both Latin kumbia, Balkan beat and Spanish gypsy guitar. The obvious highlight of the night was “Start Wearing Purple” which had the crowd reach the same level of euphoria as previous shows I have witnessed. Unfortunately, this level of intensity was short-lived, and I think this boils down to the fact that Gogol Bordello have for a long time been surfing the waves of success, which means that they have found a formula that they more or less follow every time, leaving none left for surprises for an audience that have seen the spectacle before. There is no doubt that very few bands come anywhere close to Gogol Bordello in their live shows, and this evening was another fantastic display. I just fear that Gogol Bordello will stay routine-ridden and eventually bore the audience a bit. Nonetheless, the New-York based madmen rocked my world yet again.

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