There is nothing like waiting four years to see a great band again at the world’s most famous venue. Fans from all over have patiently counted the days until the return of Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Mexican guitarists who took the music industry by storm with their metal-inspired acoustic talents. The duo, hailing from Mexico City, recently broke cover from a four-year hiatus to bring back their flamenco sound to the masses with their “US Tour 2018” and were met with open arms as they again took the stage at Red Rocks. The weather in Morrison proved to be less warm and welcoming, but that is what dancing to fast-paced music is for, right?
Rodrigo y Gabriela have been playing together for more than 15 years, receiving significant critical acclaim for their live shows. Having performed for the likes of President Obama, sold albums all over the world and played top venues like Red Rocks several times, their fan base is strong and unwavering. The show last night may have been chilly, but eager fans made it clear nothing could stop them from getting their fix of tunes.
Bahamas opened up the wet evening with their beachy rock, starting slow and sultry with a sporadic kick of jazz. Bahamas really only refers to the lead singer and guitarist on stage, Alfie Jurvanen. The rest of the musicians are associates that he tours with. The drive from Jurvanen was as obvious as the lack thereof from the other members of the ensemble, who did not inspire. The softer tracks could not overpower the conversations from the audience and at times it was difficult to determine if, other than Juvanen and the drummer, any of the other performers (a bassist, guitarist and vocalist) contributed much to their set.
Jurvanen repeatedly referenced himself as “the band who plays before the band you paid to see,” unjustly censoring his obvious talent with jokes insinuating that the crowd simply wanted his set to be over. When the Canadian took a solo it was clear he has spent the time and effort to perfect his form, it is just the execution and stage energy that could use some tweaking.
Rodrigo y Gabriela channeled their inner metal heads and made their way to the stage while blasting Tool and running a high-energy light sequence. Through the return of light rain, the two walked onto the stage in seemingly coordinating outfits of red and grey, with the exception of blue hair on Rodrigo. They sat timidly for the first track before standing to rock through a few older songs from years past. The lack of attention given to the crowd for the initial moments of the show gave the act a thrilling mystique, and the musicians performed like two experts simply showing up for work.
The rain picked up after the few opening songs. Following a quick speech from Rodrigo on the microphone, the setlist swiftly turned to some new material that is slated to be recorded after the tour wraps this fall. With a black and white projection of them playing in real-time against the rocks behind them and Gabriela’s hair swaying in the rain as she banged her head along with her perfect strumming, the 100th Red Rocks show of 2018 was shaping up to be one of the best. Gabriela stole the microphone to assure her followers that the weather was not an issue for them, after living in Dublin for 10 years, and that all they needed to do was keep dancing.
The show continued with songs old and new, with Rodrigo cutting off an old track to insist they instead dive into the brand new “Cumbé” that was recorded just last week. The transition that the instrumentalists go through from rock to jazz to psychedelic and more continued to amaze the entire night, and it truly is spectacular what they are able to do with two people and just as many instruments. It is hardly a wonder if Rodrigo y Gabriela will return to the Rocks again, and next time, with a new release for their devotees under their belts.