Rodrigo Y Gabriela Live In Japan Review

Released 2008.  

BBC Review

How much acoustic instrumental un-heavy metal do you need?

Garth Cartwright 2008

Mexican acoustic guitar playing couple Rodrigo & Gabriela are one of the surprise success stories of recent years. Intent on playing acoustic instrumental interpretations of their favourite heavy metal songs, the duo shifted to Ireland where they began busking. This lead to concert and festival appearances and an increasingly strong following. They began recording and found an even bigger audience – their 2006 album Rodrigo & Gabriela has sold over 500,000 copies worldwide!

Appropriately for musicians who admire heavy metal's biggest stars, the duo have recorded a live album in Tokyo. There is just the two of them on stage and while one holds down a rhythmic pulse the other picks melodic lead guitar patterns. It's a very simple process yet as the crowd response suggests both dynamic and exciting. The duo now compose most of the instrumentals although they still find room to cover two Metallica songs and Stairway To Heaven (which surely no one needs to hear again!).

As a formula Rodrigo & Gabriela can wear a bit thin – how much acoustic instrumental un-heavy metal do you need? And Metallica riffs played on acoustic guitar never quite raise the same level of tension that a distorted electric guitar does. And their own compositions suggest a love of noodling beyond what's good for the listener. But, such complaints aside, this is the perfect document of Mexico's most popular (and unexpected) musical export. Comes with a live DVD featuring five of the songs.

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