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RODRIGO Y GABRIELA
Hammersmith Apollo, London
9 December 2007
How is it possible, do you think, for a Mexican acoustic duo to not only sell out the Apollo but to have the entire audience eating out of their hands? And by that I mean all standing and roaring for more, singing along to an instrumental set.
Well, if you ever hear them, let alone witness a show, you’ll soon realise. Acoustic guitars played heavy metal style is just the start (their last album covers both Stairway To Heaven and Metallica’s Orion, both live staples), and the live performance has developed immensely since they last played London.
Early on we get the call for songs, as they have long since stopped using set lists.
For the bulk of the show, the pair are seated, their acoustics plugged in and microphones to talk into, and screens that show close-ups of their work; something for the guitar techie to enjoy, because these two really do go for it.
As usual Rodrigo takes the lead, plenty of intricate work amongst the acoustic thrashing, while Gabriela plays a hard hitting guitar. Quite literally hard hitting, between strings and guitar body she bangs and strums, mixing guitar playing with a powerful rhythm, it really does make you wonder how this hollow piece of wood can withstand the treatment.
What looks, on paper, a short set list, is misleading, Many songs become medleys; aside Metallica’s One and the aforementioned Orion, there are a few bars of Enter Sandman and For Whom The Bell Tolls in and around the set, as are a few bars of Hendrix too! Zep’s Stairway goes down well. And throughout the set their legs stomp, their heads bang, and Rodrigo winds the crowd up too, who are soon baying for more like a pack of hounds.
Now here’s where the show has changed; Rodrigo comes to the front of the stage to really work the crowd into a frenzy. More medley, banter, and he splits the crowd up into three sections to clap a progressively complex rhythm while they both continue to play. There’s even a sing-along section – to an instrumental. Go figure!
The crowd sing along to a shortened Wish You Were Here (yes Floyd are in there too), a track that sits well along their own tracks such as Diablo Rojo. And, after recent problems they’ve had on the tour, there’s a new song nicely called FTUSVD (Fuck The US Visa Department).
Amazing to think their last album has gone gold virtually on word of mouth alone, and their last live album was recently featured in the 1000 albums you must hear.
Review by Joe Geesin
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