Sage Gateshead has seen its share of grand sinfonias, world-famous ensembles along with touring rock bands over the years. But tonight’s show is a little bit different from the norm.

Now you would expect a concert from an acoustic guitar-based duo to be a reasonably tame event. However, world-renowned Mexican outfit Rodrigo y Gabriela are no ordinary pair of guitarists. With heavy metal influences and a past that evolved from being in a Mexican death metal band, this incredibly talented duo can sure shred with the best of them.

Rodrigo y Gabriela recently released their incredible fifth studio album Mettavolution earlier this year and subsequently the pair are touring the world in support of their latest offering. This run includes a rare performance on Tyneside at the prestigious Sage Gateshead. You would have to look back as far as 2008 for the group’s last appearance in the North East. 

As the pair takes to the stage they congregate around a centrally located podium, as they introduce the audience to the first of two instrumental compositions taken from their latest offering. This takes the shape of the funky Krotona Days and Witness Tree.

With the group’s new album they grapple with complex topics such as Buddhism through to Human Evolution. Now, these subjects would be difficult enough to explain using lyrics, let alone with instrumental music. But it’s their beautiful approach to playing, their rhythms and melody that helps to convey feelings and emotions associated with these topics. Video screens at the rear of the stage also enhance the performance thanks to complementary visuals.

Having performed at some of the world’s greatest venues including Red Rocks, the Royal Albert Hall, Radio City Music Hall and the Hollywood Bowl Rodrigo y Gabriela spare no expense, bringing their full production to this grand concert hall situated on the banks of the River Tyne. With pitch-perfect acoustics, this impressive auditorium – Hall One at Sage Gateshead is the perfect setting for tonight’s audio-visual extravaganza.

Old favourites such as The Soundmaker and Diablo Rojo showcase what the duo is all about. These fiery Latin compositions highlight the pair’s many talents including their lightning-fast fretwork, frantic fingerpicking, and their unstoppable rhythm. The latter of which has the whole of the Sage Gateshead clapping in unison.

One of the many highlights of the set comes from Rodrigo y Gabriela’s epic take on Pink Floyd’s Echoes. The group have reworked the track with a new arrangement for their latest album. Coming in at close to 20 minutes long, this exhibition of guitar mastery, control, rhythm and stamina is one of the most impressive performances this writer has ever witnessed in this room.

The duo takes the room on a psychedelic instrumental trip that ebbs and flows as the pair’s playing traverses varying degrees of light and shade. Even at one point in the song, the guitarists bring things down to gently and softly that you could almost hear a pin drop in the room. Truly a spectacular interpretation on Floyd’s timeless classic.

Rodrigo y Gabriela kick things up a notch with the title track of their latest album with Mettavolution, before turning back the clocks with a pair of fan favourites including the majestic 11:11 along with the up-tempo Latin flavours of Tamacun. The latter of which certainly gets the Gateshead crowd jumping as the dynamic duo push their main set over the finishing line.

A five-song encore follows. The infectious melody of Electric Soul is a joy to behold from start to finish, whilst you can’t stop yourself but to tap your feet to the up-tempo Nuevo flamenco rhythms of Cumbe.

Having recently performed on BBC Radio 2, the group takes the opportunity to showcase a cover by The Cure which they performed on the Michael Ball show before Rodrigo y Gabriela bring the show full circle as they end with one final track from their new album by way of Terracentric.

It may have taken 11 years for Rodrigo y Gabriela’s return to the North East of England, but based on the strength of tonight’s performance it was certainly worth the wait.

Event Date: 25-Sept-2019

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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