Music Mondays – Gogol Bordello.

(If your confused about the day, blame the following: Scotland, snow, CrossCountry Trains and Leeds. Although the latter is debatable. Let’s blame filling my time with fun, film and food instead. Check me)

Anyway! On a bloody cold night in November (the 27th), we ventured out into the dirty slush that was masquerading as snow, and descended upon Leeds Uni Refectory. Now compared to my tiny excuse-for-a-university, Bath Spa, this place was huge. In fact I think the refectory itself is bigger than the ENITRE Students Union. Yes really. So, as soon as we got there, I was violated by a security ‘woman’ who felt me up in ways I only let BenchLad do (that’s your new name on here love!). So it wasn’t a brilliant start, but on we ploughed. Laden with coats, we wanted to get rid of them before we died of sweating, but the queue for the cloakroom (which I think only had one person on it) was about a mile long. So no to that, especially considering getting our things back after. It was so crowded that we decided to head to the Old Bar for a quiet drink before some gypsy madness, but oh what’s that? You can’t access the Old Bar even though we were already in the building? And – there was no re-entry if we went out to go in a different entrance? You guys are wankers.

Still feeling the effects of the night before, we equipped ourselves with two pints of Coke, and headed towards the front. We’d missed the supports, but oh well – I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be worth it. Not that I don’t think supports are worth their time, it’s more that they would have been blown out of the water by Eugene Hutz and his too-low-for-comfort jeans. Described as “gypsy punk”, this band combine a fabulous mix of traditional music (and instruments actually), with the energy of a 2 month old puppy on speed. That, with the fact that they seem to be having a whale of a time, and somehow fit in a modern context – possibly because they’re pretty unique, and could be deemed as something of a novelty act? – make them a rather good band. They did not disappoint – they performed outstandingly, and there really aren’t many bad things to say about them…

However, an evening is NEVER without grievances, especially if it’s me at a gig, and this evening’s ones included the huge crowd! Not that they were douches as such, it’s more that there were so many – I’m used to going to gigs were there aren’t many people because the music’s usually so weird/bizarre/underground/pretentious. Etc. So that was a little unusual, but it was only bad as I wasn’t ready for it. Usually it’s sweat that I hate coming into contact with, but this time, it was hair! Dreadlocks feel disgusting – so scratchy – and there was another bird with hair that you could practically breath in. Yuck. That aside, the crowd weren’t too bad – everyone was having a lot of fun.

The only other annoyance, aside from the idiotic control of the venue, was the encore… MY GOD! I thought an encore was supposed to be, you know, a couple of songs, three at best. But… 30 minutes? Get fucked. They might as well have come on for the second half or something. For me, I found it boring towards the end. I did rather want to just yell “shut up!” in their general direction.. I feel I was the only one, and possibly had it been Sea Power I would have been more receptive, but it did get kind of annoying. I’m sure BenchLad would disagree.

However, that aside, it was a good evening! We weren’t as close as I’d like to be, and probably should have made it more clear that, yes, I wish to be in the smush of people, but not to worry. Eugene Hutz has so much energy it makes me rather ashamed. He’s an excellent front man, but my favourite by far is Sergey Ryabtsev (yes, really) (told you they were ‘trad’), who plays the violin for them. This guy is in his 50’s, and just casually strolls about the stage with the air of Gatsby or similar, playing some pretty outstanding music, and has an AWESOME electric violin. Quite jealous actually. An extremely accomplished musician, this guy is so cool. The fact he has grey hair and a beard makes him even cooler. The whole band are pretty damn good at what they do, and I love the fact they play things different from electric guitars all the time… Not that I dislike the electric guitar, but it is nice to have a change. Isn’t it? Set list included American Wedding (this has been in my head for days now), Pala Tute, Baro Fore, and a hell of a lot more, including a medley of about six other songs within songs in the encore. Quite exhausting just being there. Alas, once again, wish I’d known more of their stuff, but next known gigs are British Sea Power and the Decemeberists, both back-catalogues I am pretty familiar with. Hooray for next year!


Song Of The Day #20.

Gogol Bordello – Rebellious Love

Ahead of an upcoming gig, my research has led me to this song, which I think is rather good. It’s a little crazy and chaotic, but I think there is some organisation there… Maybe. Anyway, what do you think? Are we a fan of the gypsy influence, or is it too Eastern European for you? Or is that small injection of it into today’s music something good? I think it is, so for a few moments, do enjoy some Bordello goodness.

Later With Jools Holland – 16th April.

Jools is back! And given that it’s nearly festival season, this is a particularly exciting time for good music to be featured on television. I mean good music that’s actually good, not stuff that doesn’t mean anything or just slots into the background.

This week, Jools featured Paul Weller, Marina And The Diamonds, Hot Chip, Gogol Bordello, Polar Bear, Villagers and Paul Rodgers, and, oddly, I found the two most well-known/popular ones (Paul Weller and Marina) were the most disappointing.

Paul Weller – It rather seems like this chap only being accepted nowadays because of his big name – but his music on Jools pretty dull (“indie landfill”?), and he should NOT attempt falsetto. Ever. Does rather sound like someone being strangled. There was nothing special in this performance aside from his name, and, as my watching companion said “You’re not Mogwai, you do not need four guitars on stage”. I was not impressed by this music, and much preferred some of the smaller names who had much more interesting music. If anyone else had done it, it feels like it wouldn’t have got very far at all.

Marina And The Diamonds – So boring! Is she only popular because of her eyes? Good performance, good (but odd) range on voice, but the music is awfully dull. It’s just pop, and there feels like no substance to her music. I was not interested but did watch her performance, but it only confirmed my suspicions that she is just another one of the female artists around at the moment who will be forgotten in a few years and won’t be remember for her musical talents. On the plus side, at least she writes her own stuff, which is more than one can say for people who are just a face, singing the music that someone else wrote for them.

Polar Bear – Only allowed a one song slot! But it was lovely: odd considering I don’t like jazz (I felt this wasn’t really jazz, or at least not jazz I have previously been subjected to), and as Eugene Hutz said, it’s quite courageous to just go with music and no lyrics. I would like to see more of this band – I am intrigued.

Hot Chip – Yes! Bloody yes! They played ‘One Life Stand’, ‘I Feel Better’ and ‘Take It In’ from their latest album, which I hadn’t yet listened to. To my surprise (the only feedback I’d been given was that it wasn’t that impressive or groundbreaking), I found impossibly good melodies, and a smoothly cool performance from what looks like some A-level IT students. This was one of my favourite things this week, along with…

Gogol Bordello – Awesome stuff, huge energy, excellently different but sounding good anyway – different because they’re celebrating their many, many different cultures. It was described by Eugene Hutz as ‘transcontinental rock and roll’, and they were not being different for the sake of it and sounding terrible. Lovely Balkan influence but still appealing music. I would be compelled to go and see them now, which is a change from recent thoughts.

Villagers – I found this chap pretty dull really – it felt like if I practised at the guitar I could probably do it (Anyone could). And why gaffer tape a guitar? Nothing special, and slightly frustrating because he was clearly using up too much room where Gogol Bordello or Polar Bear could be playing more tunes… Just another one of those singer-songwriters playing acoustic guitar.

Next Friday’s line up looks a little dubious, as it features Kate Nash, but only the plus side it does have Jerry Dammer’s and his Spatial AKA Orchestra. Could be interesting…