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RODRIGO Y GABRIELA
Shepherd's Bush Empire, London 23 May 2007
For those unfamiliar with 'Rod and Gab', don't let the idea of the style put you off. Acoustic instrumental heavy metal doesn't even begin to describe them. This Mexican duo, who started off together in a heavy metal band, took up acoustic guitars via the busking route and their music can be described as having Latin harmonies and rhythms but the structure is definitely rock.
Fresh from slaying America, this date kicks off the UK tour in support of their new album, which features many originals and killer versions of 'Stairway To Heaven' and Metallica's 'Orion', which show their influences well.
Rhythm guitarist Gabriela kicks off proceedings slapping her guitar, often treating it like a drum and producing rhythms most bongo players would have trouble with. In the main the more animated of the two, her right (strumming) hand beats both guitar and strings as if her life depended on it, and in the opening song she slides her hands up and down the strings producing a great sound. Head and left leg bang in unison for much of the evening.
Rodrigo, although keeping up with the rhythms on occasion, plays intricate solos and bangs his head in true James Hetfield style.
The announcement of boredom of the same old setlist every night leading to no setlist tonight brings a cheer and a few laughs, the crowd shouting out requests between songs.
Next up we see some real guitar abuse, the alternating bursts of solo and rhythm sees the two almost duelling. Rodrigo's fast picking at times sounds almost banjo like.
A cover of Metallica's 'Orion' follows, during which Rodrigo becomes more animated during the song's crescendo. A few bars of 'Enter Sandman' precede a new song, as yet untitled, which also features a few bars of 'Smoke On The Water'.
A highlight is the duo's take on Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here', which sees the crowd singing along in unison.
The audience of all ages cheer them back for an encore which sees more guitar duelling, the spotlights fluctuating on each in turn, who remain seated throughout the show. The finale of 'Stairway To Heaven' brings the audience to their feet.
Acoustic music for the heavy metal fan who knows it's about playing and passion in equal measure. An absolute joy, and no green tights.
Review by Joe Geesin
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