Gypsy Pistoleros – live at HRH Sleaze 27/08/2022 – Gig Review

Gypsy Pistoleros – live at HRH Sleaze 27/08/2022

You can’t have a sleaze festival without a healthy dose of the Gypsy Pistoleros.   Clear HRH favourites, they return again to Sheffield O2 Arena this year, bursting onto the main stage mid-afternoon like a bunch of fireworks, with a brand new set and the much loved flair and theatre in abundance.   This time Gypsy Lee, Kerry, Craig and Pete are resplendent in black and white face paint and ‘Peaky Blinders’ themed outfits giving the nod to the new single about to drop on October 7th ‘The Ballad of Tommy Shelby’, which will be accompanied by another of their legendary music videos – fans have a lot to look forward to this autumn.

How to describe the Gypsy Pistoleros?   Lee himself happily announces – ‘We don’t know what music we play… and we don’t CARE!’    They are a glorious cauldron full of so many absorbing elements.   Drama, flamenco, glam rock, rumba, sleaze, punk, flamboyance – the best way to describe that which sets them apart from other bands is that they are just EXTRA.   Extra theatre, extra showmanship, extra variety musically of sounds and styles, and they seem to get bigger and better every time they return to the stage.   In short, take everything you know about sleaze glam rock bands, add a bit more, and multiply it to the power of, well, the Pistoleros, and you’ll get somewhere close.     

The band hit the stage with the seasoned familiarity of greeting old friends, and there are a lot of them here repping the band with T shirts and merch, anxious to see what they have brought us this time.   There are others that have heard about Gypsy Pistoleros and understand they have to be seen to be believed, a few curious cats wandering across as the set progresses, and by the time they’re done they have a pretty healthy-looking crowd rocking out with them.   They kick off with ‘Loco Loquito’, quickly followed up by ‘Close as You’ll Ever Be’ and by the time they are three songs in with ‘Pistolero’, one of their original and best-known anthems, the devoted crowd are revved up and bouncing.

The band are on their best form ever.   There’s no mariachi trumpet this time around, but it really isn’t missed given everything else on offer – we get Pistolero Pete’s eye-watering guitar solos that generate a fair few dropped jaws in the audience, Craig Pistolero’s hair-flying, spine tingling thunder drums, and Kerry Pistolero’s Quatro style bass, plus additional vocals that make you want to ask if you can have whatever she’s having a la When Harry Met Sally.  That girl can seriously SING!   And of course, fearless frontman and guitar player Gypsy Lee Pistolero, his savage, punk vocals and elaborate, fiery charm – the stuff legends are made of.

‘Forever is Para Siempre’ comes next, attacked fiercely by Lee who has lost none of his punk edge and carries as much swag as ever, in the same style they slam out a couple of new songs for us – ‘What’s it Like to be a Girl’ and ‘Thrill Kill, Thrill Kill Killer Club’ before slowing things down to go into the dreamy acoustic tones that begin ‘Soho Daze’; nobody is lulled into this false sense of calm however, we know what’s coming and can’t wait to get dancing when the track takes off and rockets away.   It’s a favourite of mine and I’m away with the rest of them on the Pistoleros infectious, crazy ride.   Another new song ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, before the pure passion and beauty of ‘Una Para Todo es Bandido’; like a call to arms the flamenco-rumba tones of Lee’s guitar (sans guitar strap since he broke it) cast their spell, Billy the Kid himself would have had a tear in his eye.

‘I Got It All’ and ‘Good, Mad, Beautiful’ follow on, the latter being another song that seems to have been eagerly anticipated by the crowd, given the sudden surge during the opening chords and the ‘Whoa-oh-oh-oh’ refrain taken up by people who can clearly relate.

Annoyingly, the set was cut short, due to some stage management issues which although disappointing, meant that they finished with ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’, which as Lee quite correctly points out is ‘everyone’s guilty pleasure’ and I’m taken back to hitting a drumkit in a tiny gold dress and Day of the Dead make up for the video; this should have been last year’s Xmas No 1 but we won’t go there just now… Anyway, this is another great song for showboating the band’s collective skills and gets everyone dancing whether they intended to or not.   Despite being cut they finish on a massive high, leaving a breathless, sweaty audience and a huge bunch of smiles.

This show is glorious – the band are a unique bunch of extroverts that you can’t help but need to know what’s coming next with.   They are ostentatious, colourful, up in your face and create just as much atmosphere and thrill with the visual element of their set as they do with the music – as always with the Gypsy Pistoleros there is always more than one way to tell a story, and the incorporation of theatre makes enough of a mark to be noticed, although never to be taken so far that it detracts from the serious calibre of musicianship and songwriting they’ve got going on.   If you’ve yet to see them grab a ticket for the forthcoming shows between now and Xmas and get the experience – it will make your head spin, leave you in a complete daze and is just what you need for a perfect dose of rock n’ roll escapism.

Review by Victoria Llewelyn

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