Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero took to the stage at Radio City last night like two possessed sonic surgeons, rifling their way through a relentless (mainly) acoustic set leaving the audience barely enough time to breathe. For the uninitiated, Rodrigo y Gabriela essentially play thrash metal on classical acoustic guitars. It sounds like a relatively simple concept but the execution is terrifying.
So what you’ve got on stage here is two Mexicans showcasing their metal roots and finger-picking virtuosity aided with special guest slots from Testament’s Alex Skolnick and Metallica/Infectious Grooves bassist Robert Trujillo. Without these guest slots, the set almost could have waned slightly. But thankfully, Rodrigo and Gabriela’s charm also helps to keep everyone onside at all times, particularly when Gabriela speaks, her faltering English and swoonsome delivery melting hearts every time she opened her mouth. Sigh.
The cover of Metallica’s ‘Orion’ from their Master of Puppets album was an undoubted highlight – as many metal songs from the mid-1980s era were known for their often ridiculous pseudo-flamenco interludes, Rodrigo y Gabriela reclaimed it and brought into the realm of the genuinely sublime. Also, the sheer vastness of the venue appeared to suit the duo; despite being crouched over their fretwork for the majority of the performance. they owned the stage leaving the sold out crowd agape. The regularity in which audience handclaps simply failed to keep time with the duo is testament (ahem) to both the duo’s speed and the general air of enthusiasm surrounding the gig.
Rodrigo y Gabriela are relentlessly raw and exist completely outside of any need form of amplification. This was the kind of gig that would make you want to give up playing music entirely. Simply breathtaking.