Writer: Sam Kayuha.
Gogol Bordello brought its traveling circus to an adoring audience at the Newport Music Hall on Tuesday night. Seven virtuosic and incredibly energetic musicians crowded the stage for a performance that was quite unlike anything else I have seen.
Two things stand out from Bordello’s music. One is the foreign influence, clear in the Ukrainian accent of the vocals and the diasporic nature of the group--its members hail from Eastern Europe, Ecuador, Ethiopia and Los Angeles. The second is the heaviness of it. Distorted guitars and pounding drums power the violin and accordion, which could sprinkle lovely melodies over or crash into the orgy of noise themselves.
The band opened its set like a tornado, rolling through its ten-album discography, leaning on its latest effort, “Seekers and Finders.” That album is its first in four years, years in which the band toured extensively, and it is easy to understand why. The live experience is a planet away from the records, full of an energy and charisma that is captivating in person.
Each song had the feel of a finale, coming to climax then mellowing out for a moment, before roaring back to life. The acoustic moments were quickly belied by raucousness.
Each member had their moment to hear the crowd roar for them. One of two percussionists, the Ecuadorian Pedro Erazo, would come out from behind his congas to bring rise to a crowd which was more than willing. The bearded “Professor” (born Sergey Ryabtsev) may have been the real star of the show, thrilling with his violin interludes.
Dos Equis missed a golden opportunity to bring on Bordello’s frontman Eugene Hutz as the most interesting man in the world. He dashed and pranced and danced across the stage, flinging his hair about and preening. He waved a bottle of wine about, spilling the red liquid across the stage. At one point he pulled two books from his table of props and sat cross-legged on the floor with them.
Gogol Bordello seems to roll through Columbus every few years. After witnessing the spectacle that was the show, the best advice I can give is be sure you’re there next time the band comes to town.