BILLBOARD THE VENUE, MELBOURNE
30 MARCH 2010
As gigs go this was up there with the absolute best I have ever seen and coming from such a huge fan of classic and eighties rock that is a huge call. Don’t get me wrong I have always liked GB in the same way I love Dave King’s band Flogging Molly. There is just something so joyous about the sound of a band that seemingly has no boundaries and can cross from solid rock to folk, or salsa, or reggae and back in a second.
On the way in I am amazed by the vast variety of the crowd there are those there that seem to have tried a little too hard in the ‘wear clothes that a gypsy punk would stakes’ and there are odd hats and strange beards galore, feathers in hair, and ribbons in dreadlocks . The crowd is of every shade, there are hardcore punks, Emo kids who seem a little lost, hard rockers, surfies, shaved-headed lesbians in Hari Krishna garb, Betty Page look-alikes and all of your expected gaggle of college cool kids with
extraordinary sideburns and their geometric hair-cut sporting girlfriend.
Hell there’s even a woman who looks like Stevie Nicks mother in a big black cloak! But the bulk of the crowd is just like you and I a mixture of the curious and wanna be cool. The gig is a sellout and so it’s sad to see such a big guest list of spoilt kids of the connected, a big group of whom who got in just before me spend the first few songs talking loudly about themselves and then leave no doubt to talk more about themselves at the next venue Mummy and Daddy are getting them in. Fuck them GB doesn’t need it and I’m glad to say that I don’t think I have ever seen a more responsive crowd.
Billboard itself is a great venue, just big enough to get sweaty but with great sound and not too much hassle to get at the bar which is cool as Les, my companion for the night, is unconvinced and decides that he needs plenty of VB to make up his mind after the Gogol-lite support we both forget the name of. Actually they had their moments but not enough singing to make them really interesting.
Live Gogol Bordello is an amazing sight; with eight musicians on stage at times their sound is amazingly rich and pronounced. Before they even come out the buzz in the crowd is intense. The last few intro tracks raise massive cheers when they end. Finally its showtime and the band make their
way out one by one until finally Eugene Hutz hits the stage with his guitar.
The dancing ensues from the first beat and I feel obliged to move both feet. It’s a transfixing sight with so much going on onstage, the eight members of the band who sometimes feel like nine as the roadie is
constantly called on to move, adjust and pick up just about everything at some point.
The songs are raging blur of colour and spectacle, hypnotic rhythms and Eugene dancing with red wine and balancing his mic on his hand as the roadie gets ready for it to fall, which it of course does.
We are three songs in before we get the first “Hello Melbourne” but we don’t care we
are too busy watching the mad percussionist in his Mexican wrestling mask, or the drums that are now at the front of the stage. There’s dancing and fun both on and off stage as the crowd not content to be just a little
wild go really wild for “60 Revolutions”. Then we are treated to a glorious trifecta of songs from next month’s Rick Rubin produced new album, best of which is the one we have all heard “Pala Tute”. Though there is another cool tune about not being in when death comes calling.
Its hard to encapsulate the pure joy of the spectacle, the raging accordion, the thumping bass, the mad guitar and percussion. The wild interjections of rap or rhyme or even just shouting. And all the while the crowd is whirling like dervishes do on their big night out.
It’s crazy even at the back. A girl in a grey dress is going wild and dancing with a group of us while her sober boyfriend (he’s driving he tells us) looks on in amusement, near us a girl in a basque and striped pants goes mental at the fast songs and stands to attention when the slower ones come on. A girl near her in a white dress is just gyrating throughout and is almost horizontal whilst three Russian guys pogo constantly for an hour. Everyone, absolutely everyone from the back to the front is getting off on this and the crowd jump and dance and writhe like there really is no work tomorrow! There are crowd surfers and even a member of the band joins in!
Before we know it it’s the encores Les is still at the bar nursing his VB and I am very tired dancing with two big bearded Croatians and all our new friends. Eugene emerges with towel on shoulder and the crowd who had been shouting for an encore even before the last song finished go slightly more
crazy. We get a burst of Russian flamenco then we segue into the glorious‘Alcohol’ as the rest of the band take to the stage one by one, to turn acoustic into frenzy!
The rest of the encores are a blur, I have a slight pang of regret that there is no ‘American Wedding’ or ‘Avenue C’ but it’s all good, we are smiling all the way out, and say our goodbyes to our new friends who want to go and drink vodka over the road. Everyone who passes us has had a fucking great night to remember.
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