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Rodrigo y Gabriela, Eventim Apollo Hammersmith review - fiery flamenco rock | reviews, news & interviews

Rodrigo y Gabriela, Eventim Apollo Hammersmith review - fiery flamenco rock

Rodrigo y Gabriela, Eventim Apollo Hammersmith review - fiery flamenco rock

A rare live experience of synergy, unique musicality and Buddhist alchemy

Slapping, picking and strumming from the Mexican guitar duo

Rodrigo y Gabriela are no longer the youthful metalheads that once spawned an organic fan movement from the muso grapevine, via rigorous gig schedules and world tours.

They are grown up now, having been in the game for 20 years – something Rodrigo references, saying that it was natural to follow fun when they were young, but that they now have a more important message. The Mettavolution tour is not only full of their usual unassumingly intense and brilliant flamenco-rock aesthetic, but also food for thought that glimmers around Buddhist principles and a connection to something greater than the self.

They get right down to it, sitting on a circular stage beneath a triquetra-like logo, feet tapping rhythm, hands strumming at lightning speed, or slapping the body of the guitar; Gabriela with her head thrown back, face euphoric as she flits between percussive rhythm and melody, Rodrigo intense and compact, internalising the supportive bass.

Light and shadow falls in long hard bars, like strings up the fret of a guitar, as smoke swirls around the duo. Even when on opposite sides of the stage their energy cascades across the space to connect as they play games with one another, throwing energy, pace, rhythm and volume back and forth.

They knock, tap, pick and strum their way through the Mettavolution album, as well as some older hits from right back to their very first album. Some tracks are malleable and mellow, some hard and rocky, some slow and bluesy with a soft flamenco arc. There’s crunching in “Terracentric”, a dancing beat in “Cumbé”, a pleasing consonance in the contrasting levels of sound and intensity carried by an easy groove in “Electric Soul”.

As an audience, we clap in taught rhythm – one side of the auditorium carrying one pulse, while the other, a syncopation. We have some delightful nerd lols when Rod plays the opening bars of what sounds like “More Than Words” but was only joking. When fully warmed up, we go wild for the popular “Mettavolution” title track and nostalgic energy explodes with a white-hot performance of “Tamucan”. All of it is better live.

The much-discussed journey of Gab & Rod’s cover of Pink Floyd's “Echoes” is one I will never forget. It is lengthy (19 minutes) and oblique; meandering along a musical landscape that once made rock history but with a unique and all-encompassing draw. The slow, mellifluous riffs and harmonies are so poignant in parts, it’s almost painful.

Gabriela, with her beautiful/endearing Mexican accent takes to the mic, and talks about the spiritual message behind their music - how they want to encourage us to reconnect with ourselves and the rest of humanity. She calls it “hippy dippy”, saying softly: “Close your eyes and connect with the universe. Imagine you ate a mushroom or something and trip with us.”

And there is something trippy about this experience. Not because of the videoscape of light pouring upwards out of mountains; the talk of expanding universes and images of Buddhist alchemy. But because of the connection that Rodrigo and Gabriela have that ignites people – it brings strangers together through the powerful connection of music. They are frenetic, their music simmers; they play with a connection and flourish that is unique; so focussed on melody and beat but with a deep, magical understanding of each other, and of their audience. The shared rhythm and energy, that passes between them and through us, is a particularly generous kind of synergy that speaks of working together as one.

Gabriela with her head thrown back, face euphoric, flits between percussive rhythm and melody; Rodrigo intense and compact, internalising the supportive bass.

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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