Review: Rodrigo y Gabriela (feat. C.U.B.A) at The OlympiaTweet
Rodrigo Y Gabriella at The Olympia Theatre on February 19th 2012
Photos: Aidan McCarthy
Review: Craig McDonnell
After 2 years, Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero (or Rodrigo y Gabriela to their friends) are back once again. Their latest album‘Area 52′ was released at the end of January and Dublin’s Olympia is the starting point for their nine date tour of Europe alongside Cuban orchestra C.U.B.A.
Opening up proceedings is singer/songwriter and ray of sunshine Wallis Bird. Wallis is well used to the daunting task of opening for such a unique act, having supported Rodrigo y Gabriela often before. As a result she takes it all in her stride and bashes out one catchy rock song after another on her acoustic guitar. In between songs, Wallis entertains the crowd with stories of looking at the headliners bums from backstage, reasons to buy her merchandise (her CDs will also act as fans to cool you down) and bad jokes. It feels like she is performing in front of 20 people in a bar and not to a sold out Olympia and it is almost impossible not to smile as she does so.
After a short interlude to prepare the many instruments about to be used; Rodrigo, Gabriela and friends take to the stage. Some people have claimed that this latest album is disappointing as it only has reworked versions of old songs. After three songs Rodrigo also admits to the crowd that this album came as a result of their record company hassling them for a new album and they hadn’t even planned on touring after recording it. After hearing the songs live, it is clear why they changed their mind. C.U.B.A add another dimension and incredible energy to the already brilliant songs. At times, it isn’t clear who is having the most fun on the night between the orchestra, the crowd and Rodrigo y Gabriela themselves!
Despite all this, the highlights of the jam-packed set come when everything is stripped bare again. Both members of the duo play stunning solos which showcases their incredible talent as well as their contrasting styles. The orchestra also have a say, with pianist and arranger Alex Wilson as well as the bass player both getting their time in the limelight.
During the set, Gabriela informs the crowd that this album and resulting tour does not mean their music has taken a completely different direction and hints that they will be playing some Irish festivals over the summer so keep an eye out for that.
To finish off the night, the full orchestra returns to the stage to play ‘Hanuman’ and by now classic and crowd favourite ‘Diablo Rojo’. Rodrigo y Gabriela never fail to put on an impressive and energetic show. The extra Cuban flavour mixed in gave the sold out crowd a night they won’t be forgetting for a long time.