LOS ANGELES, CA- Imagine this scene. You are walking up a hill toward a concert venue. The line to get through the ticket gate is long. As you walk towards the end to get your place in line you notice the following people: a distinguished grey-haired couple; a bald-headed, portly dude wearing cargo shorts and Slayer t-shirt; a family of 5 with children between the ages of 5-13; more metal shirts; more families; more “distinguished” patrons. All ethnicities. You see them all. This is the line to get into a Rodrigo y Gabriela show.
This would be my fourth time seeing the dynamic guitar duo in concert, and the diversity of the audience has never surprised me. After all, their music is as diverse as their audience. Theirs is music influenced by multiple genres, including heavy metal, rock, and nuevo flamenco. And the passion with which they play, coupled with their impeccable technique, makes for an enjoyable listen regardless of where you come from or where you’re going.
Since their self-titled album was released in 2007, Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero- Rodrigo taking the melody and Gabriela taking the percussive elements- have been delighting audiences around the world. This year, delighted audiences even more by giving them the power to craft R&G’s setlist for this year’s tour.
As previously mentioned by Rodrigo:
“On the Mettavolution tour in 2019, we played the whole of that album […] Here we are, two years later, and we have decided to let the fans choose what songs they want to hear from us on the ‘By Request’ tour […]”
The ‘By Request’ tour made a stop in Los Angeles with consecutive performances at The Ford on September 17 and 18.
Opening the evening was the singer-songwriter David Keenan. Hailing from Dundalk, Ireland, I’m guessing that his selection to accompany Rodrigo Y Gabriela on certain dates of this tour relates to RodGab’s eight-year stay in Dublin, Ireland when they first started their career.
Keenan’s performance was quite enjoyable. Not only was his singing pleasant to the ear, but he was particularly personalbe. He treated the large venue like a pub, conversing with the crowd and really establishing a rapport with those who were engaged with his performance. I feel like his accent also added to the pub-like chatter somewhat. I believe he even sang an Irish pub song.
He regaled the audience with stories of his family, connecting those stories with the music he was about to perform, and although I knew nothing of his music prior to this performance, I felt like I got to know him and what he was all about to the point that it made me appreciate his music. That is a rare quality, and I hope that it pays dividends for this talented young man.
As soon as RodGab took the stage, they literally started from the beginning.
In organizing the songs that their fans had selected for them to perform, they made the decision the order the songs chronologically, and almost in album order. With the exception of their respective solos, and the last few songs they performed from their 2019 album, Mettavolution, the audience at The Ford essentially got a musical history of RodGab. They even included “The Pirate That Should Not Be”, from their collaboration with Hans Zimmer on the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides soundtrack.
Throughout the evening, RodGab’s invigorated playing stirred the blood. While everyone started the evening in their assigned seating, it only took one song before people were up and moving to the music. It was that infectious. I’d like to note that RodGab performed virtually the entire evening seated on stage. That dichotomy, seated performers, and dancing audience, kind of speaks volumes of the power of their music; and a pied piper analysis that deserves further observation.
And while you may be overcome by the vibrant energy of their music, you’d be remiss to overlook the fact that their music is simply genius. Rodrigo’s fingers deftly pluck the strings like a madman while Gabriela concocts rhythms that with her hands that you could swear shouldn’t be possible.
By the time Rodrigo stood up to run across the stage with his guitar, fans danced and clapped with him in the chilly night air. Those clapping hands accelerated as the final song concluded and crescendoed into rapturous applause. The music had stopped, but bodies were still moving, hoping that more music would come from the stage.
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