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Concert Review: Gogol Bordello – Tempe, Arizona – October 24, 2007

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Gypsy Punk Cabaret – it’s not exactly a genre, not just yet. In fact, most people would probably scratch their head at the notion of punk rock played with a violin as a key member of the band, sirens on backing vocals all while fusing traditional Eastern European and Jewish styling. Indeed, Gypsy Punk Cabaret is the sole domain of the frenetic Ukrainian, Eugene Hütz and his traveling side show – Gogol Bordello who descended upon Tempe, Arizona’s Marquee Theater, Oct. 24 with a vengeance.

Gogol Bordello is as much about style as they are substance. Hütz was quoted in the Columbus Dispatch as saying his shows are about communicating the ecstasy that is the heart of Gypsy culture. And commincate the band did to the Tempe crowd.

Ask yourself this – when was the last time you went to a concert and every single member of the band looked as if they were having the time of their life at that very moment? Typically, someone looks bored on the stage, whether it’s the too-cool-for-school bass player or the drummer stoically in the back keeping his beat. Nothing could be further from truth in the aspect of Gogol Bordello.

Hitting the stage, Gogol Bordello seemed a mix-mash of ideas – the fiddler off to stage left, looked like he might be more comfortable behind the handle bars of a Harley Davidson, The bassist in a simple T-shirt and jeans seemed almost to laid back for this band, and Hütz himself came out, his shirt slashed open down the middle, wearing dangerously tight black jeans, a half crazy, half wild animal look about his eye as he intoned the refrain “DROP THE CHARGES!” from the band’s cult hit “Not A Crime.”

And with the start of the music, you suddenly got it; nothing about this band seems, on the surface, analogous except one thing – the music. The music unites them, forges the mixing of cultures and ideas into a single, raucous vision that explodes upon an unsuspecting crowd

If ever a band fed off the crowd, Gogol Bordello is one such animal as the Tempe crowd turned into a group of soccer hooligans, into a jumping, swarming mass of bodies in motion, fists pumping in the air, voices rising to meet the speakers pumping the sound.

Girls in long, flowing hippie dresses off to the side waving their arms about. Boys and girls, young and old in leather, in khakis and in jeans erupting into mosh pits near the center of the stage as Hütz and Co. urged them on further and further, taking them closer and closer to the edge, nearly nonstop for more then an hour. This was more a celebration then a concert, a tapping into something deep inside of you and you and me that said it’s ok to be alive and to grab it, and at least for a short time, to just let go and exist in the joy that is the at-this-very-second.

Ostensibly on tour in support of their latest release Super Taranta, Gogol Bordello ran through the gamut of their four official releases including the overwhelming crowd pleaser “Start Wearing Purple” as well as songs from the band's vast library not culminated in a full length record form.

Simply put, this is a band you must see and by see, I mean to say, prepare to be blown away and experience something unlike anything you’ve ever known. In a day and age where music and bands have nearly come down to a formula in presentation and style, Gogol Bordello exists in that rarest of stratosphere – a true original.

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