Review: Rodrigo y Gabriela at 1STBANK Center, with C.U.B.A. and Bobby Long, 4/10/12
Rodrigo y Gabriela last night at 1STBANK Center. Photo illustration.
Although Rodrigo y Gabriela are performing with a full band on their current tour, the most memorable moments of the act's set still come when the two are playing by themselves. About half a dozen songs into their set last night, with Gabriela jumping up and down and slapping the soundboard of her acoustic guitar between plucks and Rodrigo striking the most epic rock star pose ever held by a classical musician, the pair absolutely tore through a feverish version of "Buster Voodoo" before bringing their backing band back out for the remainder of the set.
A few songs earlier, C.U.B.A., the group of musicians brought on to help bring Rodrigo y Gabriela's latest album, Area 52, to life, kicked off the set with Tool's "The Pot," which has seemed to remain a constant on the tour thus far. Rodrigo y Gabriela usually tour alone, but given that the new album utilized a thirteen-piece Cuban orchestra, it makes sense that they would bring additional musicians to help recreate the songs live.
When the pair came onto the stage after "The Pot," they were greeted by uproarious applause from the audience, which was seated but was on its feet dancing before long -- the ones who weren't sitting in slack-jawed amazement at what they were seeing and hearing that is. In spite of the energy emitting from the two musicians guitars, sitting almost seemed more appropriate.
The live-feed projected to the back of the stage offered everyone equal intimate close-ups of the performers, but the camera refresh couldn't keep up with how fast the two were playing. The concentration was obvious in both of their faces, but the real awe-inspiring moments came when you attempted to focus on their hands as they delicately chose each note in the frenzy of strumming.
The chemistry between these two is absolutely amazing. They play as if each others lives depend on it, and it's completely visible in their non-verbal communication on stage. While Gabriela holds the rhythms, Rodrigo takes the lead, and the result is a orchestral phenomenon recreated by just two guitars.
Towards the end of the set, each member of C.U.B.A. received a short spotlight for a solo highlight, and each player was impressive as the next. C.U.B.A. was an excellent choice for tour mates; the energy during the solos -- and for the entirety of the show, for that matter -- was on par with Rodrigo and Gabriela.
Opener Bobby Long, a U.K. singer/songwriter, opened the night with depressing tracks about ex-girlfriends whom he currently hates, one song about living life, and finally closing with one about death. He pushed his voice hard, and played the hell out of the guitar, but really, there is no good way to go about opening for a duo like Rodrigo y Gabriela. The two are simply amazing.
Rodrigo y Gabriela
1STBANK Center - 4/9/12
Alfredo (C.U.B.A. band member) Solo
Alex (C.U.B.A. band member) Solo
Edwin (C.U.B.A. band member) Solo
* denotes Rodrigo y Gabriela playing without C.U.B.A.
Personal Bias: I don't classical guitar, but I'll be damned if it isn't awe-inspiring to watch.
Random Detail: 1STBANK Center had one of those phone-booth, blowing-cash-at-you machines last night.
By The Way: You have never seen guitar playing like this.
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