Before coming to Israel, without knowing that one of the members of Gogol Bordello is Israeli, I sat in my kitchen in Dunedin, New Zealand and had a vivid day-dream about going to see Gogol Bordello play live in Tel Aviv.
For years, whenever people asked "which band would you most like to see live?" my answer has been Gogol Bordello. Not only was it obvious that their stage presence would blow all my previous experiences out of the water, but I've also got a massive heart entanglement with the music and with my solo travelling life. Sometimes, when I'm alone in a foreign place, I will fall prey to piercing loneliness or anxiety about my life direction. At times like that, a sure fix is to put on one of my life philosophy songs (like 'Ultimate') and stroll around my new city.
So, you can imagine my reaction when, within weeks of arriving in Jerusalem, Noa runs out of her bedroom screaming, I ask WHAT?, and she says "GOGOL BORDELLO are COMING to TEL AVIV!"
I bought a ticket immediately and patiently waited eight weeks. On top of four years, it wasn't much.
The venue was Barbi in Tel Aviv. Above, the queue outside and then inside the bar. Beautiful bellydancer below.
The opening band were some Israeli ska band. Needless to say, I didn't love them, as I really don't get into ska. They were also kind of 'jazzy' in a Sunday morning cafe way, which I truly don't get into. However, this being Israel, they were good looking - so all wasn't lost.
The gap between opening band and Gogol Bordello coming on stage was painfully long and I whined almost the whole time. I paused while this beautiful girl above was doing burlesque acrobatics.
Below: FINALLY. I nearly passed out upon seeing Eugene Hutz in real life; I find him unbearably beautiful. I put my camera away for the vast majority of the gig, as it involved a lot of extremely raucous jumping around, and besides, I didn't want to be one of those kids (pictured below) who live behind their cameras, or worse - phones. So, the pictured moments are the quieter moments in the gig, like when Eugene came back onto the stage part-way through a fantastically long encore and played an acoustic, tragic version of 'Alcohol.' Needless to say, I was swooning.
What really makes Gogol Bordello for me is the diverse and equally involved band members. The guitarist below is actually from Tel Aviv, so he got a beautiful home town welcome. Other members come from Ecuador, Hong Kong, Ethiopia, Russia and Ukraine and at one point every member sang the opening line of the Beatles 'Girl' in their mother tongue; a song which Eugene saw as being heavily influenced by gypsy lament songs.
Another potent moment for me was when they burst into an extremely energetic version of 'Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)' and the crowd went absolutely insane. I like to hope it was in reaction to the despicable anti-immigration rallys in Tel Aviv recently.
Going to see GB in this particularly place, at this time, was more fascinating, joyful and faith-restoring than anything I could have conceived of in my mansion kitchen all those months ago. I've been floating ever since.