- Rodrigo y Gabriela »
Mexican guitar maestros Rodrigo y Gabriela have come of age. Since breaking into mainstream consciousness six years back, they've earned their stripes with relentless touring and a string of excellent material that has proven their act is far more than a novelty.
The duo are back to basics on the last date of their European tour, stripped of the 'Cuban orchestra' that accompanied them last time round. Tonight it's all about Rod and Gab - two exceptionally talented musicians rescuing the humble acoustic guitar from bad buskers and pissed Oasis singalongs. It's easy to forget how rare it is to see such a display of pure musicianship; their guitars sing, cry, stomp, boggle and delight this evening, just like you want them to.
RodGab have certainly garnered a fanbase to match their diverse, patchwork sound. You're as likely to see your mum having a jig to their infectious rhythms as you are a metalhead sagely nodding in appreciation, and the crowd makeup at the Forum reflects that well enough. There even seems to be some questionable break dancing at the back at one point.
You'll have guessed by now that I like Rodrigo y Gabriella a lot, and they're really very good tonight. A mix of classic tunes ('Diablo Rojo' gets a brilliant early rendition) and material so new it hasn't even been named ensures the setlist is anything but predictable.
It's the interplay between the two that lies at the core of their appeal: Rodrigo's blistering fretboard runs would just be showboating were it not for Gabriela's primal, Flamenco rhythms and ribcage-trembling punctuation. As proven by the impressive but slightly dull solo slots each has, it's the intersecting of melodies, dynamics and sheer expression that creates the magic. The music reaches far beyond programmed technicality, and their performance of it is a joy to witness.
Pianist Alex Wilson joins the duo at the midway point for the Cuban-flavoured 'Santo Domingo', also offering up a truly jaw-dropping solo to set the crowd crackling.
Even this display of virtuosity can't steal the show from RodGab, however. They wrap up proceedings with another new piece and a cast-iron 'Tamacun', leaving the stage as conquering heroes.