Live music galleries: Gogol Bordello [2014]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Like my ‘Vinyl love’ series, these posts will be more photos than words but that doesn’t mean I won’t welcome your thoughts and comments. And of course, until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Gogol Bordello live at Ottawa Bluesfest 2014

Artist: Gogol Bordello
When: July 10th, 2014
Where: Claridge Homes stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Lansdowne Park, Ottawa
Context: It’s been quite a while since I’ve done one of these Live music gallery posts. I was sharing pictures of past concerts on the regular back in the spring, back when this pandemic was so new and the sting of cancelled tours and music festivals was still fresh. It’s been close to fourteen months now since I stood in a heaving crowd and experienced music the way it was meant to be and I’ve resigned myself to the fact it will likely be a bunch more months before we all get back there. But when we do, I’m definitely finding passes to a music festival and going large. And it’s not necessarily going to matter who’s playing because we know the musicians are missing this as much as we are and the first bunch of shows they all do are going to be epic. Kind of like when I saw gypsy punk collective, Gogol Bordello at Bluesfest back in 2014. The energy was palpable, aggressive but not violent, and it was all ignited simply by frontman Eugene Hütz arriving on stage. He was a lightning rod for sure, but the other seven members of the band weren’t exactly inert either. In fact, I think the crowd on stage were just as rowdy as the crowd watching, each playing the hell out of their instruments, be it fiddle, guitar, bongo drum, or accordion, and each contributing to the mass vocal message. The music was equally good for dancing as it was for slamming into other people, as witnessed by the different ways the varied crowd appreciated the performance. By the time Hütz finally dispensed with the shirt that was only getting in the way of his running about the stage about halfway through the set, I knew Gogol Bordello’s was a performance I would remember for years to come.
Point of reference song: Amen

Eugene Hütz of Gogol Bordello
Elizabeth Sun of Gogol Bordello
Oliver Charles of Gogol Bordello
Michael Ward of Gogol Bordello
Pasha Newmer of Gogol Bordello
Pedro Erazo of Gogol Bordello
Thomas Gobena and Pasha Newmer
Pedro Erazo and Eugene Hütz
Thomas Gobena and Pasha Newmer
Eliazabeth Sun, Pedro Erazo, Eugene Hütz, and Pasha Newmer
Sergey Ryabtsev and Michael Ward of Gogol Bordello
Eugene Hütz: The man, the legend.

Vinyl love: Depeche Mode “101”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Depeche Mode
Album Title: 101
Year released: 1988
Year reissued: 2016
Details: 2 x 180 gram, gatefold, 16-page booklet

The skinny: “Good evening, Pasadena!!!!” I don’t have a lot of live albums in my collection and typically, I’m not a big fan. However, in a case like this, I get away with it because I’ve got a lot of history here. “101”, so named because the recordings are culled from Depeche Mode’s 101st show on their “Music for the masses tour”, was the closest thing the band had to a “best of” compilation around the time that I was just getting into them. I recorded a copy off my friend John’s compact disc and I listened to it pretty non stop for months. I know every nuance, every bit of banter with the audience, and how the live versions differ from the studio versions of these songs. In some cases, I even prefer these live recordings. So yeah, it was an important one to add to my collection and I was especially happy when I saw the 16 page booklet, designed by regular collaborator Anton Corbijn that was included with this reissue.

Standout track: “Everything counts (Live)”

Ten great Ottawa Bluesfest sets: #10 Violent Femmes – Sunday, July 6th, 2014

(This year’s edition of Ottawa Bluesfest has been cancelled, for obvious reasons. In previous years, especially on my old blog, I would share photos and thoughts on some of the live music I was enjoying at the festival throughout the duration. So for the next week and a half, I thought I’d share ten great sets, out of the many I’ve witnessed over the years, one for each day on which music would have be performed. Enjoy.)

Violent Femmes live at Bluesfest 2014

Artist: Violent Femmes
When: Sunday, July 6th, 2014
Where: Claridge Homes stage at 8:00pm
Context: Yes, I know they’re from a long time ago but they’re a band I’d never seen live. Like the last two sets I’ve posted pictures from, sets by The Waterboys and Belle and Sebastian, this one crossed off another big one on my list of bands to see. Violent Femmes’ self-titled, debut album for 1983 was one of my favourite albums growing up and as I learned that evening, I still know every word from every song.

I knew as soon as they started things off with what is arguably their biggest song, “Blister in the sun”, that their plan was to play that self-titled, debut album from beginning to end. (Do I have to tell you that the crowd went nuts?) By the time they got to “Good feeling”, I was in heaven and my voice was hoarse from singing along. After playing “Violent femmes”, they played a selection of hits from the rest of their career (see full setlist below), including “Jesus walking on the water”, “I held her in my arms”, and perennial favourite, “American music”.

Gordon Gano’s performance was tempered to a low pitch, letting his vocals tell the story, except of course, when the songs required the use of the fiddle or the banjo. By comparison, Brian Ritchie was a monster on the acoustic bass, making his presence felt on every song, and Brian Viglione (replacing original drummer Victor DeLorenzo) was a master showman, dazzling us with solos and tossing out drumsticks and brushes to the audience. For a band that’s been around a long time, they played to a crowd of all ages, not just us old folk. There were a large group of youngsters who likely weren’t even born yet in 1983, holding on to the rail at the front of the stage and shaking their moppy heads so hard, it gave me a headache just watching. However this wasn’t a tired old reunion performance in the least. The Violent Femmes looked like they had the energy to do this for maybe another thirty years.

Gordon Gano
Brian Viglione on drums
John Sparrow on the cajón and Brian Ritchie on the xylophone
Gordon Gano on the fiddle
Brian Ritchie on the acoustic bass
Kicking it with Brian Viglione
Gordon Gano on the banjo
Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie

Setlist:
Blister in the Sun
Kiss Off
Please Do Not Go
Add It Up
Confessions
Prove My Love
Promise
To the Kill
Gone Daddy Gone
Good Feeling
Jesus Walking on the Water
Country Death Song
Old Mother Reagan
Freak Magnet
Gimme the Car
Black Girls
I Held Her In My Arms
American Music

(I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip through ten of my favourite Bluesfest sets from years past. Here’s hoping we don’t have to do this again next year and instead have a bunch of new performances to experience.)