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Rodrigo Y Gabriela/ Liverpool Academy

Flamenco clashes with heavy metal and it oddly works. Joseph Viney is impressed

Published on July 1st 2010.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela/ Liverpool Academy

MOST conversations about this duo probably go thus:
“Never heard of them. What are they like?”
“It’s…erm…flamenco and…erm…heavy metal.”

People are coming in their droves, and really, how often do you think improvised acoustic Latin thrash-jazz could be marketed successfully?

People are either intrigued or repulsed by the idea. A bit like Marmite. Despite any misgivings about this mishmash of genres, Rodrigo Y Gabriela (or Rodrigo AND Gabriela to those who didn’t take to Spanish in school) throw as much energy, if not more, into their performances as each genre would usually demand.

A bustling crowd packed out the Academy on Tuesday night to bear witness to the type of virtuosity despised outside of metal since the late 1970s and the advent of punk.

Only this time it’s been transferred to the softer medium of acoustic guitars and, with a slight helping hand from the mainstream, has gained a feverish cult following; in part due to a notoriously relentless touring and recording schedule. 2009 saw the release of Rodrigo Y Gabriela's sixth studio album, 11:11, and the hype, the touring and the music shows no signs of stopping just yet. Despite what Rodrigo Sanchez once described as a “painful” lack of radio play in Britain, the people are coming in their droves, and really, how often do you think improvised acoustic Latin thrash-jazz could be marketed successfully?

Let it be known, these former Dublin street buskers and thrash metal refugees are spellbindingly talented; combining blistering pace with melody, subtlety, percussive use of their guitars and chord changes that could melt the heart of most.

Rodrigo y Gabriela

Their charm and childlike stage presence is another endearing quality; coy rock star poses, eye-to-eye coordination and communication between the duo and encouragement for audience participation. Gabriela’s own stage chat sounds like that of a person simply amazed by unexpected and rapid ascent and her strange over-use of expletives makes you think that maybe she’s spent just a bit too much time in Britain. To her everything is “…f***king crazy” and you can’t help but raise a smile to that sentiment.

The duo have regularly cited groups like Metallica, Overkill and Slayer as huge influences and are known more famously by their superb cover of Metallica’s Orion; a dazzling display of skill and depth of knowledge.

It is complemented by three other Metallica covers, perhaps a bit too much when the time was just about right for a cheeky rendition of Stairway To Heaven.

There does come a time however when the style, the music itself can wash over you. The mid-gig lull into quieter and more introspective numbers doesn't do well and, in some parts, the general conversation of the crowd and those heading to bar drowned out what was coming from the stage.

However, all could be forgiven. The energy, clear devotion and joy at what Rodrigo Y Gabriela do is evident and this is transferred onto an audience who, despite their in-built store of British reserve, are clapping, snapping and “Arriba”-ing with the best of them.

Véalos mientras puede. ¡Excelente!

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