Album Reviews

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Live Manchester & Dublin

(Rubyworks) UK release date: 27 September 2004


Having gathered themselves a throng of rabid fans in the UK thanks to various supporting slots for their favourite songster Damien Rice, this sibling duo are fast becoming the hottest thing to blast out of Mexico since jalape�o peppers.

With a live intensity unmatched by any other musician in their scene, the Latin pair posses unbelievable stage presence and simply incredible skill. So symbiotic are these two factors, that their first album to be released on English shores, brilliant as it was, struggled to capture both.

The reason for this is simple. The barren studio environment proved to be kryptonite for the virtuoso’s flair – without the electric environment that the stage provides for them, the material sounded good but squarely a few feet short of the awesome feats of which they are capable of achieving with 12 nylon strings and a few lumps of wood.

As if pre empting this situation, Rodrigo and Gabriella have released this latest offering comprised of two sets of separate live recordings (Dublin and Manchester respectively) which feature some of their best original work as well as numerous cover versions, for which they are well renowned.

A classic of said tributes crops up not once but twice on the album in the form of Metallica‘s epic opus One, which gives you a little insight as to just how a Metallica unplugged album would sound in the Latin Quarter.

The first version swirls through the melodic lead intro before dropping into the brutal thrash grooves that slam through the speakers like a freight train derailing, and then with a twist of magic metamorphoses seamlessly into Dave Brubeck‘s Take 5 which needless to say also bears their unique Mexican flavour.

The amusingly titled Foc (Spanish for fire by the way!) has a little of everything – spiraling crescendos dropping to the most intricate of picking sequences that will have you straining forward in attentive anticipation before blasting you back with thrashing chords and percussive drumming on the guitar body that will leave you breathless.

The similarly hyper Mr Tang takes its name from a deranged taxi driver the pair encountered whilst in Singapore. It proves the couple are more than just adept when it comes to pulling off their own material. The cheery melodies of Paris, as with most of the second set are accompanied by two violins which adds more texture and energy to the eclectic mix.

Thankfully the festive Mexicans have left their chatty inter song banter on the recording, which gives a bit of background to their acoustic wizardry and also provides a more insightful package or those not lucky enough to have witnessed them live yet. The production is quite frankly stunning, with precision panning of each guitar which separates them beautifully in even the most frantic of flamenco jams.

So enthralled do they keep the listener that the absence of vocals simply is not apparent. Proving this point with undeniable success are the Irish album charts, where the duo’s eight track wonder currently exists as the first instrumental album to ever sit inside the top ten.


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