28 June 2017 (gig)
28 June 2017
The Camden Roundhouse was packed tight with those who’d made it out of the rain to enjoy a fevered flavour of Mexican flamenco infused virtuosic guitar. Gabriela Quintero and Rodrigo Sanchez have performed their unique acoustic fusion of metal and flamenco for well over 10 years now. Once a couple, and now just good friends, they started their career whilst living in Dublin for 8 years. They have since toured the world; even playing for Barack Obama at The White House.
At first things did not seem well, when Rodrigo stepped out alone on to the stage and shared the news, for those who had yet to hear it, that Gabriela had broken her foot out running a couple of days previous. He reassured everyone that the show would go on, but an adapted set list would be played to accommodate Gabriela. At last, she took the stage in a wheel chair, left foot raised. Maybe a little battered and bruised, but that didn’t quash her enthusiasm.
Tonight’s set brought a compilation of self-penned compositions, both old and new, and some classic covers. Gabriela’s percussive style is mesmerising - her right hand a blur of slapping and wrapping knuckles; whilst Rodrigo’s intricate fretwork was as fluid and precise as any heavy metal axe man. They played with such harmony and, unless I missed it, without flaw.
Amongst their own tunes, such as Diablo Rojo and Savitri, were a hybrid version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and a now familiar rendition of Metallica’s ‘Orion’, which they have put their stamp of ownership. At one point, a select few from the front of the audience were invited on to stage to wiggle their hips for a few numbers, a couple of them not resisting the opportunity to throw their arms around Gabriela.
Rodrigo shared how they had been ‘super’ influenced by Chris Cornell when they were younger growing up in Mexico. Paying tribute they played a cover of Audioslave’s, ‘Like a Stone’; albeit that Gabriela emphasised that the pair had already rehearsed the song and planned to play it live before his unexpected death. Rodrigo sung the lyric and a few devoted fans in the audience had their moment to sing along.
A new album is on the horizon and the duo took the opportunity to play a few unreleased tunes, one so fresh they have yet to name it. Dave Brubeck’s Take Five was another highlight. Of course, not only is it a timeless classic, but with some extra Latino groove the 5/4 beat was infectious. They both made it look all too easy.
Rodrigo explained that with Gabriela’s infirmity, it would be too complicated to leave the stage as is tradition to return for the encore – ‘when she leaves, she won’t be coming back!’ So they broke straight into the encore that included their most recognisable number, ‘Tamacun’; but not before an overdriven sing-along of Rage Against the Machines, ‘Killing in the Name’, albeit, the guitars drowning out the chorus.
They are an endearing pair, and genuinely seemed surprised at how well received they are in London. With a respectful and grateful farewell, Rodrigo assisted his compadre off stage with humble smiles and to huge applause. Praise well deserved.