Live Music + Gig Reviews

Rodrigo y Gabriela @ St James Church, Piccadilly, London

19 May 2005

The audience for tonight’s gig highlights Rodrigo Y Gabriela‘s appeal more than a press release ever could. City suit-wearing clientele sit between metal fans (mostly bearded and clad in black) and both appreciate every note of beautiful guitar work, while many secretly wait for the acoustic renditions of their favourite Metallica or Megadeth number.

Sitting further back, with a slightly more reserved “we’re so cool” air about them, are the dance record producers who seem unable to contain their excitement at the originality of the duo’s music. They can even be overheard discussing in hurried whispers the possibility of sampling the Mexican wizards on their next record, much to the annoyance of the purist classical fans at the very front.

Yes, it is a motley crew indeed who fill Piccadilly’s most beautiful church on a damp and drizzly Thursday. Nevertheless, all are here to sit in awe of two previously struggling Mexican heavy metal musicians who one day had the idea of unplugging to play jazz/Latin/flamenco-style instrumentals with an infusion of some old school heavy metal riffage. The resulting mlange of style and pure ecstatic energy simply has to be seen and heard to be believed.

The Dublin-based couple have been slowly but steadily gaining momentum and respect over the past three years, starting out with humble support slots for acts such as Damien Rice and graduating to headline their own bills at renowned venues like Ronnie Scott’s.

Tonight it is easy to see why the couple are attracting more fans by the minute, for despite the delicate balance of cover versions and original material, the sound they pull off is original, refreshing and quite honestly like nothing else this side of an acoustic Yngwie Malmsteen set.

Foc and Mr Tang are original compositions which sit between the now expected but nonetheless eagerly anticipated One by Metallica. Despite the new creations having slightly less notoriety than said metal number, they command equal respect and attention, which they receive in the form of a jaw-dropped, spellbound crowd.

The highlights of tonight’s performance, however, are two new reinterpretations of classic rock numbers which place the Latin couple in a class of their own. The first, a haunting rendition of Pink Floyd‘s Wish You Were Here evokes an almost whispered audience sing-along that turns the atmosphere electric.

And yet this is superseded later by an extremely well-disguised introduction to Led Zeppelin‘s most famous of rock epics – Stairway To Heaven. As recognition spreads like wildfire throughout the crowd, the track builds to an electric climax, before rapturous applause envelops these two humble musicians who deserve every single beam of appreciation they get.

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