It’s no secret that Rodrigo y Gabriela are one of my favorite musical acts. I love pretty much everything I have heard them do.
(If you don’t know who they are, read this, then come back)
When I saw them perform at Terminal 5 last September, I was blown away by their live act. That being said, their latest performance at Manhattan’s Radio City Music Hall, was an order of magnitude better than their Terminal 5 performance.
Improvements in the Act
Back in September, their latest album 11:11 had just been released, and they were playing the songs exactly as they were recorded. This time around, they expanded on those songs adding new intros, solos, and harmonies; all of which were stunning.
The second big difference in their performance was their energy. Gabriela spent most of the show seated at Terminal 5. I attributed that to the complexity of her guitar work. This time around, she was standing almost the entire time. I am assuming that this indicates a heightened level of comfort with the music earned after months of constant touring and performance. Her stronger stage presence was an added bonus.
The third improvement was the stage lighting. Their setup was so dynamic and beautiful. It added a lot of ambiance to the music. I don’t remember this level of lighting complexity at Terminal 5.
There is so much I could rave about this show, but I am going to focus on the moments that were special for me. Usually, I am ecstatic when a concert has one truly special moment, this one had four of them.
Alex Skolnick shreds on Atman
The Alex Skolnick Trio opened the show. Unfortunately I missed all but the two songs of the opener, but what I heard was superb (the next time the play in my area, I will be there). Skolnick came back to join RyG on the song Atman; which he had recorded in the studio with them.
Atman’s climax is an electric guitar solo performed by Skolnick, a heavy metal veteran from the band Testament. During the solo, the rest of his trio ran out to fill in additional bass and percussion. The result was exception.
If RyG and the Alex Skolnick Trio recorded a full album together, I think I would be in heaven.
Intro played with purple stage lighting
They played a new intro to a song and it was so beautiful that it made me weep. The stage was lite purple, and it looked like the lighting was coming up from the floor. I wish I knew the song so I could scourer YouTube and try to find a video.
Both Rodrigo and Gabriela are wonderful guitarists, but I find myself watching Gabriela play far more often because there are a lot of guitarists who shred in harmonic minor scales like Rodrigo. That’s not to take away from what he does, but Gabriela’s playing is something that I haven’t seen anyone else do.
Her solo in the middle of the show gave me goosebumps. It was both technically incredible, and the melody was marvelous. When she finished, she received one of the biggest standing ovation of the evening, and it was well deserved. If she didn’t start playing again after about a minute, I think the ovation would have continued for a long time.
Rob Trujillo joins in on Orion
Rob Trujillo, the bassist from Metallica joined RyG for two songs. The second was a cover of Metallica’s tribute to their deceased original bassist, Cliff Burton. The trio killed on this song, and I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time; it was a very special moment in honor of one of my favorite bassists.
I knew Trujillo was good, but I never realized how good he was because the bass is so poorly mixed on Metallica’s last album Death Magnetic, and their previous album/ Trujillo’s debut, St. Anger is an assault on my senses.
If Rodrigo y Gabriela are playing in your neighborhood, get off your ass and go see them.