Rodrigo Y Gabriela – Rescue Rooms, Tuesday May 30
Rodrigo and Gabriela started their careers in their native Mexico, where they played on the thrash metal scene. Frustrated by lack of success, they split from their band mates and started busking on beaches as an acoustic guitar duo, eventually ending up in Europe. To their surprise, they landed a record deal – which earned them a recent Number One album in Ireland.
Following an appearance on Jools Holland’s Later, British interest in the duo is quickly growing – as evidenced by the capacity crowd in the Rescue Rooms, who cheered them to the rafters.
Although many would describe them as a flamenco act, Rodrigo was keen to distance himself from the label. (“We are Mexican, not Spanish!”) Instead, the duo draws on their metal background, bringing raw rock energy into their acoustic playing. It’s dazzlingly accomplished stuff: fast and furious, intricate and complex, and wildly enjoyable. At times, it was difficult to believe that there were just two people on stage, as both musicians used their guitars as percussion instruments, even while their fingers flew over the fretboards.
The set mixed original material with covers of songs by Metallica, Led Zeppelin – and an impromptu encore of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, accompanied by massed singing from the crowd.
Rodrigo and Gabriela return to the UK in November, and have promised to play Nottingham again. What’s the betting they’ll be filling the Royal Concert Hall next time? But for those lucky enough to catch them early, playing their hearts out in a sweaty rock club, this was a rare and very special treat.