Gogol Bordello – Brixton Academy, London

By paul

The Eastpak Antidote Tour, Brixton Academy
4th November 2006

Looking at the line-up for this tour, you wonder who on earth put the thing together, as the four bands on tonight’s bill have almost no musical connection to one another at all. From the gypsy-punk of Gogol Bordello, to Bedouin Soundclash‘s reggae-influenced music, we have a taste of music from all around the globe drawing inspiration from a large number of genres.

First to hit the stage are Finland’s Disco Ensemble, and instantly fail to make an impact on what is probably the worst turnout for a band at the Carling Academy that I’ve ever seen. Audience numbers have barely reached three figures, yet Miikka Koivisto leads his fourpiece through an energetic performance of much of their sophomore album ‘First Aid Kit’. It’s endearing to see a band put so much effort into a performance that unimpresses almost the entire crowd, yet at the same time it saddens me to see so much talent wasted on an audience who aren’t interested. The Fins manages to bust out CD-perfect renditions of ‘We Might Fall Apart’, ‘Black Euro’ and new track ‘This is not a party’, before name-checking half of Scandinavia and heading offstage.

Second band to hit the stage, and the first to really get the party started come in the form of Danko Jones. With a deliciously refreshing blend of old-school garage rock, Jones and his band make Brixton their own with a set full of egotistical, sexy, grimey and downright FUN songs. Between tracks ‘Invisible’ and ‘Dance’, the Mango Kid and his compadres win the crowd over with their rock and roll ethics, most notably when proclaiming half their tracks are inspired by oral sex. There just aren’t enough bands around like this anymore.

Bedouin Soundclash have always been a one-trick pony in my eyes. ‘Sounding a Mosaiic’ was a successful album commercially, but seemed to recycle the same ideas and at times came across as monotonous. Despite this, there is now an Academy full of Soundclash fans here to dance their arses off, and there are points during the set where you could close your eyes and imagine lying on a Caribbean Beach, with a Margarita in your hand. I must admit that they manage to create a truly unique sound from the standard three-piece setup, and songs such as ‘Shelter’ and ‘Shadow of a Man’ sound magnificent here tonight. Saving the best for last, they end on a double whammy of their commercial breakthrough ‘When the nigh feels my song’, along with a cover of ‘New Years Day‘, which keep the crowd partying until the very last chord.

One thing’s for sure, and that is that Gogol Bordello are hands down the most absurd band doing the rounds at the moment. Since Radio 1 endorsed the frankly ridiculous ‘Start wearing purple’, this band of Eastern European circus rejects have been on a steady upward road to success. However, the novelty of their quirks seems to have worn off tonight, as translating their musical gimmicks into a live show seems to have failed miserably. While the majority of the audience seems to buy it, most likely because by this point there are very few sober people left, the loud outfits and ridiculous body movements failed to compensate for the fact that they produced a truly horrible sound on the stage this evening. Struggling to keep in time with each other, they stumbled through a set made up of one or two well known tracks, and a host of material that seemed to be unfamiliar to the crowd. That’s the problem with one-hit wonders – it’s all well having a successful single, but when no one bothers to buy your albums, your live show will fall flat on its arse.

Tonight was one of those nights that peaked too early. With Bedouin Soundclash being the clear favourite of all people present, they were the ones that went home feeling like they’d made a real impression on this London crowd. It’s a shame that only a few people had heard of Disco Ensemble and Danko Jones, as they both did their mothers proud. Gogol Bordello on the other hand, should put down their instruments and go back to the circus.

Andy R