Gogol Bordello, Live From Axis Mundi
Gypsy rockers just play harder and better and nastier than everyone else in town
A Gogol Bordello show is a thoroughly intoxicating spectacle. Towering, mustachioed, shirtless Eugene Hutz and company convincingly convey the tragicomic complexities of Roma (Gypsy) culture through a winning bend of internationalist beats — from Eastern Europe to Latin America and back — self-deprecating one-liners ("I know it all, from Diogenes to Foucault"), and serious rock-god swagger.
Live from the Axis Mundi is a relatively polite introduction to this band of grownup immigrant punks. (For the full-on live show alluded to in the title, you'll have to track down the accompanying DVD.) This collection's first six tracks were recorded amid a lengthy international tour in March 2008 for Colin Murray's BBC show. And fortunately, nothing can dilute what Hutz refers to as the "manic stomp" of "Mishto" or the gnarly death-metal-meets-Cab Calloway epic Romanian cabaret of "You Gave Up." With the possible exception of the "Immigrant Punk" instrumental (but don't miss the demo), the five studio tracks that conclude the album are no less galvanizing than the live stuff. As global as their roaming Roma roots, Gogol Bordello surmount their outsiderhood in true Gypsy spirit by simply playing harder and better and nastier than anyone else in town.