Gogol Bordello – Live @ Iron City Birmingham

Gogol Bordello currently operates as a border-less band on a mission to help defend the Ukrainian borders. Formed by members out of Ecuador, Brazil, Russia and Ukraine, the outfit known as Gogol Bordello are steered by Ukrainian-born multi-instrumentalist singer, Eugene Hütz. Naturally, with the current state of affairs with Hütz‘ motherland, the band is serving as both a voice to information and a donor to the cause. The Solidaritine Tour sets a magnifying glass for those unaware of how severe the atrocities going on in Ukraine are and donating proceeds to help the victims back home. Make no mistake, this tour is personal, and Gogol Bordello is fighting back the best way it knows how, showmanship.

On stage, Gogol Bordello, as a whole, operate with a no-flash agenda. No outlandish lighting, no state-of-the-art backdrop graphics or gimmicks. Not them, the New York-based septenary rely on their instruments, colorful outfits, a little wine, and a bottomless supply of stagecraft. For reference, the dais just features a backdrop banner with a “SOLIDARITINE” across the top and a fist colored in the Ukrainian flag tones. The setup is unassuming and unimpressive — until the gang takes to the spotlight.

To make a longer story short, Gogol Bordello is worth your time and the ticket price. To elaborate, the effort put forth by each member is electrifying and contagious. From the antics of Hütz to the hype-man force that is Pedro Erazo and everything in between, Gogol Bordello puts on a full-fledged shot-of-adrenaline, ass-kicking, raise-the-roof type of gig.

At their Birmingham stop, it can be argued that the outing was off to slow start. Not from a presentation standpoint, but from the audience. Naturally, Hütz and company made sure that did not remain the case, urging onlookers to get as close as possible to the band, dance, drink, sing, party, listen and learn. The obliging crowd turned up their enthusiasm as festive vibes began to take shape.

There is plenty to take away from a Gogol Bordello exhibit. While Hütz is the undeniable head honcho, center stage is occupied at different junctures by just about all the performers. Most notably, violinist and keyboardist Sergey Ryabtsev seems to be the member that invokes the loudest cheers during his instrumentals or leading the chorus chants to smash hit “Start Wearing Purple.” Another peak comes courtesy of guitarist Boris Pelekh with his madman idiosyncrasies and masterful licks during a jaw-dropping solo; which concludes with everyone taking a booze shot of recognition while Boris bows, waves and sips on water to maintain his sobriety.

Naturally, the theme of the night is about Ukraine. Eugene Hütz seems consumed by the saga. How can a man seem so happy, angry and sad all at the same time? At moments it is noticeable how helpless he feels, at moments it is noticeable how enraged he feels, at times it is noticeable that he lives to perform and bring a smile to a face or cheer an extra skip into your dance. Throughout the evening, the man lives and breathes his profession. Never a dull moment, whether it be through splashing and chugging wine, performing a punk-riddled waltz, laying powerful and raspy vocals to some anthems, or even expressing his thoughts on that idiot at the helm of the Russian army. “You fascists are bound to lose, there’s people from every nation, marching side by side, they’re marching ‘cross the fields, where a million fascists died, you are bound to lose,” vociferously vocalizes Hutz to end the 2-hour jamboree.

All said and done, Gogol Bordello razzle and dazzles during their set. It is a party; a fun one, a conscious one, a danceable one and a hopeful one. The Gogol Bordello seven do not cheat you, there are no corners cut or mediocre instances; all the more impressive once known that they are performing with heavy hearts.

The situation in Ukraine is a critical and scary one. If you wish to help, you can always donate to charities here. Every little bit helps.

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