Gogol Bordello – Manchester, Academy – 12 December 2017 Print E-mail
Written by DJ Astrocreep   
Thursday, 04 January 2018 04:40

Gogol Bordello tour posterJust over two weeks before Christmas and it's time for my last week of gigs for the year. A goodbye to Manchester gigs for the year and quite some way to celebrate it, with the ever bouncy Gogol Bordello to see it out.


A single support have a tough opening slot, as the venue is quiet when they take to the stage. Lucky Chops were unknown to me beforehand, but immediately seem appropriate.


My first thought is of orchestral rave, or all things, which sounds a lot better than some might think on seeing that. Two trumpets, a saxophone, a trombone and drums with no vocals makes for effective ska sounds, and boy do they prove it! A few songs into the set, a cover of The Beatles' ‘Helter Skelter’ blares out, getting more people dancing along happily as the room is continuing to fill. Josh Holcomb on trombone decides to use his brief respite during a song to start balancing his tuba, with the other members taking turns at different points where they're not currently involved in the song to perform little tricks and keep everyone entertained. Another cover, this time of the Spice Girls 'Say You'll Be There' goes down well with the crowd, putting smiles on faces and setting yet more off pogoing or dancing, before a medley including ‘Funky Town’ and James Brown's ‘I Feel Good’ brings a loud and well received 40-minute set to an end to a two-thirds capacity crowd.


Time for the headline act, and there is a palpable tingle of excitement within the crowd, waiting for Gogol to come on. A couple of songs in and we already have ‘Not A Crime’ and ‘Wonderlust King’ played, the crowd being whipped into a frenzy as they tear through the set. Singer Eugene alternates between playing acoustic and electric guitar, at times neither, as he jumps about the stage with his usual sense of zaniness. There is a notable difference between the older tracks and more recent ones, as the audience clearly isn't as well versed in the last couple of albums as the early ones, in terms of crowd reaction, though this does not seem to overly affect any performance from the band.


Halfway through and Lucky Chops get invited back on to the stage to help Gogol with part of their set - and it's time for Eugene to tell everyone a few stories. Picking up a book, he tells everyone he is going to read us his favourite William Blake story, then making a brief short story up, before being interrupted once more by the band as they finish retuning and get into the next song. A lot of Gogol Bordello's charm is in the form of their frontman, Eugene, with his happily swigging from a couple of bottles of wine throughout the set, while managing to still get up to mischief, going crowd surfing on a drum towards the end of the set, in addition to a couple of the aforementioned stories.


There is time for Lucky Chops to help out on five tracks, a couple of songs lead into ‘Undestructible/Baro Foro’ - complete with the drum surfing - and ‘Start Wearing Purple’, before ‘Sally’ and ‘I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again’ finish the main part of the set. They manage to get through three encores as well, showing why they had played at quite such a blistering pace for the opening almost two hours. It's a great gig, a fantastic way to end my Manchester gigs for the year and it reinforces one thing I had nearly forgotten: I still want to be as cool as the fiddle player in Gogol Bordello (never gonna happen boy – Ed).


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