Rodrigo y Garbiela are to classical guitars what Nigel Kennedy is to the violin, except the Mexican duo are actually cool and manage to exude this without having to ram safety pins through their ears.
Having started their musical careers in thrash metal bands in Latin America, which (unsurprisingly?!) didn’t pay many bills, the duo moved to Ireland and were taken under the wing of then budding songster Damien Rice.
After receiving a rapturous response opening shows across Europe for the aforementioned docile Irishman, this sibling act are now well established in their own right, having played Ronnie Scott’s and the Jazz Caf on numerous occasions. Tonight however is an entirely different affair as two sheepish looking guitarists step onto the Brixton Academy’s mammoth stage and with no more than a subtle nod begin a 25 minute set of melodic wizardry in front of nearly 5000 punters.
Despite their anonymity to the vast crowd and considering their songs feature no vocals, their truly inimitable style of classical guitar work mixed with raw percussion and some down right abuse of their six stringed instruments grabs the majority of the bantering audience by the throat, leaving the venue near silent by the time second number Foc gets into full swing. The only fault in the set is derived from the fact that the sibling pair have omitted many of their trademark Metal cover versions, (which to be fair may have been wasted observing the demographic of this evening’s audience!) although thankfully some of my agitation is laid to rest as a jazzy tribute to Led Zepplin’s stairway to heaven is slipped into the mix, to the
Closing with the fantastic Diablo Rojo, the Mexican duo have, with two pieces of carved wood, twelve strings and some truly nifty finger work, won over a cold crowd to receive a flurry of wild cheers and whistles as they leave the stage, egoless and as humble as they had entered.
David Gray is another story altogether. I suppose selling out three consecutive nights at a venue such has this must be somewhat of an insecurity lifter, but from the moment he steps on stage, there is an air of over confidence and mundane regularity to his act. Opening with the single Ain’t no Love and sliding swiftly into the first opportunity for a full crowd sing along, Sail Away sets a mood for the remainder of the evening; pleasant enough, but far from rapturous.
While his newer material is never going to be as well received as his radio hits, the crowd stick with Mr.Gray until he oversteps the tolerance mark by playing a solo version of a track from his debut album, causing a mass exodus to the bars.
However, Please Forgive Me and This Year’s Love put David squarely back in ‘hitland’ and the anxiously awaited Babylon proves just why such a melancholic man, who writes album after album of soppy mellow acoustic numbers, can still draw in the masses on a school night.