Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Cheltenham Jazz Festival: Rodrigo Y Gabriela – Live Review

Grammy Award winning Rodrigo Y Gabriela are a Mexican acoustic guitar duo. Mostly instrumental on the flamenco guitar, their music is exceptional, fun and engaging! The pair (Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero) cover various genres such as nuevo flamenco, rock, and heavy metal.

The duo have 7 studio albums and three live albums. Their current album In Between Thoughts… A New World, released this year is full of fresh, exciting tracks which are all very uplifting. Their music as a whole is the kind of music for outdoor summer evening entertainment, whether that be dancing, BBQ or just sitting in the garden with friends. It’s so easy to listen to and so enjoyable that you get completely lost in it.

Playing on Sunday, April 30th 2023 in the Big Top Tent, the venue was full and deservedly so.

As soon as Rodrigo Y Gabriela came on stage the audience applauded Incredibly loudly.

The stage set up with various guitars, the duo went straight into playing songs from their new album In Between Thoughts…A New World. This new album is fantastic and live, well it was something else! The first track played was True Nature and it was mind blowing from the intro. The Eye That Catches The Dream followed (which was released as a single.) So it was apparent at this point that they were playing the album in its entirety and in track listing order. No complaints here as it is truly a game changing album! I could be wrong however as didn’t see the set list and they may well have played tracks off of other albums, especially in the encore. As a brand new fan myself, I am not quite knowledgeable yet on their back catalogue to say for sure. Regardless, every song played was phenomenal!

There are no artists quite like Rodrigo Y Gabriela. Their exceptional guitar playing is second to none. The relationship between the guitars is a beautiful match made in heaven. Each song and each note told a story that was absolutely captivating. When vocals aren’t added to the mix, it makes you appreciate the instrument so much more and in this case the guitars.

Gabriela is insane on the acoustic guitar. I have never seen anyone play a guitar to that skill. I don’t feel qualified to talk about their talents as I know next to nothing about the guitar but the way she played so fluently and using the guitar for beats too was awe inspiring! Rodrigo played multiple guitars including electric and acoustic and possibly a pedal steel? His ability to play the acoustic whilst having the electric still strapped to him was amazing!

The audience absolutely loved every minute. I was itching to get up and dance but would have been the only one and I can’t see myself as being one of those people that starts a trend. I don’t think I was alone though. We, the Brits tend to be slightly reserved when it comes to getting into the zone and we often need a few people or the band on stage to take the lead. It was only during the encore that the duo encouraged everyone to stand and to gather around the front. The amount of people who found their way to the front and the amount of people who stood up dancing when prompted proved my point that everyone wanted to from the start. I just wish we all had as we were just getting started. It was obvious that the pair feed off that sort of energy too which made me wish even more that we were all standing and moving from the start. Their faces beamed when people gathered to the front and they really appreciated it!

However, there is also something so magical in just soaking in the music and being really attentive! We are known for that in this country. Rodrigo Y Gabriela loved their audience either way and you could see their gratitude throughout their set.

The concert was a masterpiece, showcasing two of the best musicians in the world and their extraordinary skills. Their ability to write instrumental stories is genius and the songs they played played like a soundtrack to a movie.

Personally, I could have watched Rodrigo Y Gabriela all night. They are one of the best live acts that I have ever seen and I definitely wanted more!

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