There are few musical acts that can sell out as many concert halls as Rodrigo y Gabriela. The Mexican guitar duo guarantees an impressive live experience, making them a welcome guest here. Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero have performed no fewer than twenty-two times together on the Belgian stage, and it’s all the more impressive when you learn that the duo only crossed over into the European countryside for the first time in 2006, after the release of their debut album . .
The Royal Circus Theater was the venue for the 23rd Belgian Passage of the Mexicans. The duo appeared on stage around 8:15, showing off the album cover Between Thoughts…New The World, released at the beginning of this year, has been pinned on the back. It was also material from this album that made up the majority of the set list, the rest being filled with unreleased songs which, as Rodrigo announced during the concert, are the songs that will be on the next album, also due in April. Opening track “Astrum In Corpore” was one of them, and although the previously unheard song started out flat, its intensity increased towards the end and once Gabriella’s rhythm became a bit more complex, the quality of the duet really came to the fore.
They made it clear that the Mexicans were just as fired up after the opening song with “True Nature,” which immediately attracted an even more enthusiastic crowd with its high-energy content and scorching fast tempo. The two musicians also loosened up a bit and made more use of the stage space, by switching places several times and showing off their guitar skills live in front of the audience. The flashing light show made it even more impressive.
The lights were dazzling not only during the musical numbers, but also between songs. Rodrigo and Gabriela kept disappearing from the stage between songs, followed by a different type of light show each time. For example, “Egoland” was deployed with red emergency lights, albeit without the associated sirens. So we were warned, although it was not immediately clear why. It soon became clear that this should serve as a warning for the dynamic performance given by Rodrigo in particular, which had the audience jumping to applause. It must also be said that the audience was very enthusiastic throughout the evening. With every acceleration of the tempo and amidst every crescendo, there was a scream or scream of pure ecstasy. Rodrigo and Gabriela were able to completely captivate the audience with their exciting music and that was a special feature of theirs.
There were a few moments where we weren’t completely sucked into a parallel universe with an epic soundtrack, but Gabriella’s cursive text was one of them. She spoke to her fans in Spanish, and although there were a surprising number of South Americans and South Europeans in the room, the majority consisted of Belgians who often did not speak Spanish. Fortunately, the binding text was largely limited to “muchas gracias” and “ti amo,” which fortunately everyone understood. She went on to briefly talk about philosophy and described the big bad monster which they then sang about with their guitars in “The Monster”. With some finer electronics, the devices were given an extra layer. This was a welcome change, as were the glass platforms on the stage where Rodrigo and Gabriela stood during that song. Gabriella also used her guitar solely as a percussion instrument for the first time of the evening, which was so impressive that many wanted to capture it on their smartphones.
After several long songs, “Seeking Unreality” and “The Ride of the Mind” were followed by some short but powerful songs, which managed to clear the minimal routine in no time. Then Rodrigo also ventured into a conversation and fortunately for him he spoke English. He told the audience that the unknown material they played were the songs that would be included in the upcoming album, which is scheduled to be released in April of next year. What followed was logically one of those songs from the next album and was without a doubt the best new songs we heard this evening. During “The Simurgh” Rodrigo played slide guitar at the end and it had such an epic quality that at times it reminded us of David Gilmour’s playing during the final stretch of Pink Floyd. We can’t say exactly how long the slide game lasted, but what we can say is that it was one of those musical moments where we completely lost ourselves in the music and eventually looked around and then suddenly realized that we stood in the concert hall among a thousand people. Naturally, “The Simurgh” elicited the loudest applause of the regular set.
After Rodrigo stole the show with his guitar playing, Gabriela also got the chance to do the same. For a moment she stood alone on stage for her only solitary moment of the evening. For the first minute it wasn’t much melodically, but mainly she managed to surprise with the arsenal of strange sounds she was able to pull out of her acoustic guitar. It certainly wasn’t bad overall, but after an hour filled with the great sound they make together, Gabriella’s solo moment seemed very bare musically, even though she played it as if she had three hands.
On “Finding Myself Leads Me to You” we got the closest thing to singing, Rodrigo’s speaking box, which also meant that for the first and last time there was a microphone with an accompanying tripod on stage. It’s also subtle nuances like the talking box or the aforementioned glass platforms and electronics that ensure that almost every song has something new or different to offer. However, the big surprise was saved for the closing song, as Rodrigo and Gabriela decided to get off the stage and perform their final song in the middle of the room. Most of the attendees could no longer see them, but when we saw fans jumping around near the circle in the middle of the room, it was nothing but excitement. The guitarist duo then took the stage again to thank the crowd, and then it was over after an hour and a half of epic guitar music.
Rodrigo y Gabriela confirmed his great live reputation in the Royal Circus. Rodrigo’s electric guitar playing and Gabriela’s vocal percussion playing are a musical combination of exceptional class, which expressed itself this evening through powerful, often high-tempo songs and an exciting finale.
The guitar duo is still there on October 31st Gypsies For their twenty-fourth performance on Belgian soil.
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