Gogol Bordello + Mariachi El Bronx @ Birmingham Academy, 11th May

Gogol Bordello + Mariachi El Bronx

It’s an eclectic evening of music at the Academy with a little taste of Mexican culture courtesy of Mariachi El Bronx and some genre defining New York Gypsy Punk from Gogol Bordello.

You may have heard of The Bronx but you may not have come across their alter ego Mariachi El Bronx. It’s their first time playing in Birmingham and they’ve pulled out all the stops with a 7 strong band including some very fetching outfits. Featuring the four members of The Bronx plus 3 other additional musicians including a violinist they make for an impressive sight on stage.

Gogol Bordello + Mariachi El Bronx

Mariachi El Bronx are an interesting prospect and definitely a big step away from their day jobs playing in a Punk Rock band. Matt with his cheeky grin is a charismatic front man and as he so eloquently put it “Punk was an idea before it was a sound” it’s quite clear that this is a serious project. El Bronx have some quality songs to choose from with the likes of ‘Cell Mates’, Litigation’ and ‘Clown Powder’ all getting an airing tonight plus ‘Slave Labour’ which Matt shouts out to Birmingham hardcore legends GBH.

Its obvious though who everyone is here to see as the number of people wearing Gogol Bordello merch seems to have doubled; it’s easy to see why with some of the best T-shirts designs I’ve ever seen including the hilarious ‘This moustache kills fascists’ ones.

Gogol Bordello + Mariachi El Bronx

The stage is still dark as Eugene Hutz swaggers on clutching a bottle of wine followed by the rest of the band. It’s a very unassuming entrance for such a flamboyant band and it takes the audience a couple of seconds to register that Gogol Bordello have taken to the stage. After the moment of realisation had sunk in they went wild and continued to go crazy through the entire set.

Gogol Bordello + Mariachi El Bronx

For such a motley crew of musicians including a violinist and accordionist they make a pretty good sound it’s a shame about the low levels on the vocals and guitar making them really hard to distinguish. Opening with ‘Ultimate’ it’s an interesting performance to say the least, Pedro Erazo the resident MC at first has me slightly baffled but he adds a colourful touch to proceedings with his machine gun vocals contrasting against Eugene’s singing. The energy on stage is intense and is helped along by the seemingly boundless energy of singer/percussionist Pamela Racine. Fan favourite ‘Start Wearing Purple’ gets the biggest crowd reaction of the night as the mass of heaving bodies go into overdrive.

Gogol Bordello + Mariachi El BronxGogol Bordello + Mariachi El Bronx

Playing an encore almost as long as the set it seems that Gogol Bordello can do no wrong in the eyes of their fans as they are still eager for more. Pedro takes on a humongous bass drum for ‘Sun is on my Side, it’s like being at the circus! Closing with an acoustic version of ‘Alcohol’ is probably one of the highlights of the sets as Eugene armed with his guitar wows the crowd with a frank performance as the rest of the band take a backseat. As they leave the stage to rapturous applause I know I have had a great time but it was more down to the atmosphere they created rather than the actual songs they played; not that that’s a bad thing.

Review – Hannah Sebestjanowicz
Photos – Andy Watson

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