The word virtuoso is overused, but it’s an apt descriptor for Rodrigo y Gabriela. The Mexican duo built a career on awe-inspiring displays of flamenco that shift between metal, jazz and folk, while remaining faithful to their Latin origins.
On their new release, Mettavolution, the pair once again offer songs that are relentless and precise, yet undeniably melodic. The album takes a fascinating turn halfway through its runtime, though. Six originals that stand with their finest work make way for a sprawling cover of Pink Floyd’s 20-minute psychedelic epic “Echoes,” from 1971’s Meddle.
The inclusion of a cover isn’t surprising. Some of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s greatest successes included renditions of classic rock and metal standards. While living in Dublin, their self-titled record leapt over Kelly Clarkson, Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay and Gorillaz to reach #1, driven in large part by covers of Led Zeppelin and Metallica classics. The surprise is the patient and delicate production that contrasts the furious pace of the first half of the album.
During Rodrigo y Gabriela’s recent show at Minneapolis’ State Theatre, “Echoes” fell smack in the middle of their set, creating a sense of space that heightened the immediacy of the surrounding original tracks. The slowed pace let Rodrigo switch between acoustic and electric guitars during the song. Fret-top cameras projected above the stage allowed the audience to appreciate every bend of the string and movement of the slide.
The quiet intimacy gave way, and the duo returned to original material, charging through the rest of the night with the crowd hanging on every riff. “Terracentric” brought the evening to a close, as the audience stomped along with Gabriela’s percussive strum-slaps.
Andy Witchger (@andywitchger) is a naturalist and concert junkie from Minneapolis. You can find his work on Bring Me The News, First Avenue, The Current and his mom’s refrigerator.