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Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
7 November 2010

Photos by Noel Buckley

Rodrigo y Gabriela, photo by Noel Buckley

Mexican acoustic metal duo Rodrigo y Gabriela continue to prove that they really are a sensation by selling out The Empire for five consecutive nights, and this a year after they last played London in support of the 11:11 album. Only now are the mainstream press latching on to what a lot of fans have clearly known for a long time now.

This, the last night of the run, was full to capacity and contained fans new and old. Support came from Testament's Alex Skolnick (who had guested on the 11:11 album), his 3 piece band featuring an upright bass and providing a stripped down more jazz oriented sound. He seemed to go down pretty well, and provided an interesting take on Judas Priest's Electric Eye.

Rodrigo y Gabriela, photo by Noel Buckley

Rodrigo y Gabriela came on and the roar went up, and they started playing while facing each other. As the sound built, the playing styles soon becomes apparent; Rodrigo providing the fast intricate guitar solos and Gabriela the fast yet rhythmic six string (and guitar body thumping) work-out.

Early up was Hanuman, the band's tribute to Carlos Santana, and the Hendrix inspired Buster Voodoo is another favourite. Acoustic guitars have never been so full bodied or so captivating. This is full on rock music, with some neat metal picking; remember the pair were once in a thrash band together, it's just now the axe is acoustic.

Rodrigo y Gabriela, photo by Noel Buckley

Both seemed fairly energetic, fluctuating between moving around to sitting on the semicircle of crates laid out. Either way, plenty of foot stomping to match the nodding heads.

Throughout the set both took turns to talk to the crowd, taking time to show their appreciation of the audience. Equally, solos were traded, and guitar moods and paces changed too. 11:11, Ixtapa and Juan Loco all went down well, but up to this point the sound had been more restrained than I have seen in the past.

Rodrigo y Gabriela, photo by Noel Buckley

It was only when Skolnick joined the band for Atman that things started to pick up. At the end of a 5 night run it is more than understandable, and the music was certainly passionate enough to bring the audience to life. The real rousers were, of course Diablo Rojo and Tamacun which closed the show. By then the entire venue was on its feet.

Despite the slow start and the lack of any covers, this was still a very fine show that entranced rock fans, guitar head and music lovers in general.

Set list: Intro/Hanuman - inspired by Carlos Santana/ Vikingman/ Satori/  Buster Voodoo' - inspired by Jimi Hendrix/ Triveni Chac Mool - inspired by Jorge Reyes, the Mexican composer who combined traditional Mexican Instrumentation with new technology. Reyes died in February 2009/ Hora Zero - Inspired by Argentine tango composer and bandoneon virtuoso Astor Piazzola/ 11:11 - inspired by Pink Floyd/ Ixtapa/ Gabriela's Solo/ Juan Loco/ Atman - inspired by Dimebag Darrell (with Alex Skolnick)/ Rodrigo's solo/ Savitri - inspired by John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussian's ground breaking 1970's world fusion ensemble Shakti / Diablo Rojo/ Tamacun

Review  by Joe Geesin

Photos by Noel Buckley


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