We arrived nice and early for this show to make sure we didn’t miss any of the opener, Dave Hause & The Mermaid’s set, which is more than can be said of the rest of the audience. In a room that holds just over 1000 people, there were maybe 50 or so in there as Dave took to the stage. It started to fill out a bit as the set went on, but never to more than a couple of hundred people. The set was also plagued with technical difficulties as well, with Dave breaking a string part way through and having to ditch his guitar. That didn’t dampen the spirits onstage though as the band rattled through seven songs, most of which were from latest album Bury Me In Philly. This certainly wasn’t the most polished set we’ve ever seen from Dave Hause, but with songs as good as With You, The Flinch and set closer Dirty Fucker in there, it’s impossible not to have a great time anyway. It’s a shame that more people weren’t there to enjoy it.
Aussie legends The Living End were up next, a punk rock n roll band that have been going for more than twenty years. You can tell, too, as they’ve really perfected their craft. Straight away they let us know that they meant business, kicking off with Roll On, arguably one of their most famous songs, which really started to get the crowd warmed up. From climbing on the double bass to playing a guitar solo with a bottle of beer, this band really know how to entertain.
Gogol Bordello took to the stage at 9:15, meaning we were in for a good long set. Would the crowd be able to keep up the energy levels for that long? Would the band? In short, yes. I’m not sure how, but for an hour and forty five minutes, Leeds Beckett was bouncing from start to finish. Playing a career spanning twenty song setlist, Eugene Hutz & co didn’t take their foot off the throttle for a second as they charged through fan favourites Wonderlust King, Mishto!, new single Saboteur Blues and of course, Start Wearing Purple, before returning to the stage for an encore of We Did It All, Ultimate and closer Think Locally, Fuck Globally.
What’s interesting about this band in the live arena is seeing how they manage to give each of the nine members their own spotlight in the show. Obviously the main focus throughout is on charismatic frontman Eugene Hutz, but he acts as the ringleader, offering centre stage to each member of the band at different points. Violin player Sergey Ryabtsev is probably the member of the band that gets the most focus after Hutz, he’s a recognisable character who, like the rest of the band, is incredibly skilled at his craft.
From standing on drums in the crowd passing out flowers to covering himself in red wine, Eugene Hutz leads a carnival of chaos better than anyone else ever could, and the thousand or so people that came to this show in Leeds tonight rather than heading down the road to see blink-182 and Frank Turner at the Arena may have just witnessed one of the greatest live bands on the planet in the form of their lives. With a new album due out in just over a month, hopefully it won’t be too long before Gogol Bordello bring their incredible live show back to the UK for a full tour!