Rodrigo y Gabriela grew-up playing heavy metal and (undoubtedly) kicking puppies in one of the most polluted cities in the world, Mexico City. These days with the blood finally drying on their boots the pair can be found coaxing feverish Latin melodies from silky nylon strings. Five years in Ireland and the resident leprechauns apparently took a shining and let privy their gold, which lay at the end of that same rainbow that slid people like John Butler into the eager ear-holes of Australian girly teens. Oh, how we love an accent.


From busking for mere coin Rodrigo y Gabriela polished and re-shaped their music into truly stupid flamenco/Gypsy/Spanish/Latin, with an eclectic repertoire of covers and classic song cameos. Within just two tracks on 2004's Live Manchester and Dublin, Rodrigo y Gabriela go from a fiendish cover of Metallica's ‘One', to Dave Brubeck's jazz classic ‘Take 5', and to a self-penned Latin thing called ‘Mr Tang', which includes a tiny cameo from The White Stripes' ‘Seven Nation Army'. That makes the cd totally accessible to an audience lacking an existing passion for freakish guitar. Comparatively the difficult thing about getting into Re-foc, their official 2002 debut, is that it tends to sound more like an Otmar Liebert cd for guitarists. Unless you have that said passion for nylon-stringed music, it's likely that the cd wont be as absorbing as it deservedly should. It lacks the same kind of atmosphere that transfers from a concert recording. For it's all well and good to hear the idiosyncrasies such as the string bends on ‘Diem' or the whacked-out Violinist on ‘30 de Marzo', who sounds like some sort of Steve Vai, but when it's executed flawlessly, in front of an audience, you finally relent and crap your pants at the fact that people can be this talented. At not only one show but two. Even the vocals on Re-foc's ‘New One' sound more alive at the Dublin show - as does that famous double-kicker breakdown of ‘One', despite the studio take featuring an violinist. Yes, less is often more.


My obligatory qualm with Rodrigo y Gabriela is, however, that they rely too heavily on that metal-turned-acoustic hook. Sure these guys like to slay the hell out of one of Metallica's most famous songs, and they dedicate an album to the hard-of-luck Dave Mustaine, but the character of the duo seems overstated and stylistically they're not as varied as reviews might impress. Talent like this should speak for itself. That they are perfectly in sync and amazing guitarists, with Gabriela doing it proud for the ladies; that they play some cool covers and look all sexy-like on stage; that they intelligently worked their way up from an unlikely place - these are the things that count. So ignore the overbearing spiel, pull out a poncho, cover it in your favourite metal slogans and wear it proud like dimples. Just don't point it out at every second word, it's not as cool that way. Do you suppose that Johnny Depp tells people he's cool? Balls to that. And even when he's ninety that guy will be rad. Uh huh, I'd totally turn for him. Anyway, where's a bucket of cold water? The point is that we should all like this kind of music. Listen to Live Manchester and Dublin, and perhaps drink Sol and eat burritos. Then buy some Guinness, net some leprechauns, and maybe buy Re-foc. We need talent like this to set the limits in which we exist.

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