Rodrigo y Gabriela supported by Bird (Live Review)

The Glee Club (Studio)
Birmingham
01/03/05

Two people arrive on stage which is: 1) lucky, as this is all the stage can hold, and 2) confusing, as the web site and inter-song blurb say that Bird is one person, Janie Price. Tonight, however, Michael accompanies on percussive acoustic guitar whilst Janie handles cello and vocals. The start is average folky-singer-songwritery but after a couple of tracks they get into their stride and each song is introduced – which is nice. The cello is used beautifully and is also beaten as a handy drum and the songs are different enough to hold one’s interest. Janie’s voice – deeper and more gravelly than one would expect for some reason – also makes this an interesting act, well worth looking out for. They seemed a little over-mic’ed this evening, however, which was a pity. The first album, “The Inside” is released.

www.birdwebsite.net


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Rodrigo y Gabriela are two Mexicans with a great big talent for acoustic guitar music. This is not standard Spanish guitar, although there is clearly much of it in there. There are influences of electric guitar, percussion and bodrhan playing in there as well, unsurprising as it seems that they have done the travelling and busking thing quite a bit. Indeed they did live in Ireland for a while but this is not reflected in their music as much as one might suppose. Luckily, live they do not have the space to include the high hat and shaker/maracas accompaniment that turns parts of their studio recordings into verging on the lounge music. However, neither did they have the space for a fiddle player which does carry the melody on some album tracks. This was pure guitar.

All their publicity also makes reference to the heavy metal riffs they have bespattered about their music and it seemed a shame that these were the parts to which the audience – though certainly not short on appreciation – seemed to respond most. Whether or not these worked within the structure of the pieces is probably a matter of taste. If they do indeed produce a Metallica tribute album next year as promised (joke?) I think this might actually be better as the riffs and chords seemed to serve mainly to break the flow of the pieces. In general, Gabriela has a more distinctive loose-wristed percussive technique whilst more of the finger work is done by Rodrigo. Flow is however, one area in which they do really well – the melody carried from one guitar to the other seamlessly whilst the rhythm and percussive affects do likewise. The music overall is complex and subtle and well worth attending to; however, it might be this very complexity which somehow diverts the emotions rather than engaging them.

www.rodgab.com


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Many thanks to Helen R for another great review!

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