I've been playing the guitar for nearly ten years now. When I started out, I was awful, but I put up with it for a few years until I was at a passable standard, and now I consider myself to be fairly good. Well, I mean, I can play more than chords and stuff. But, every now and then, I come across people like Rodrigo y Gabriela, and it makes me feel like a complete beginner again.
Originally from Mexico, Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero first bonded over a passion for metal, playing in a thrash metal band called Tierra Acida. After becoming frustrated with the constraints of their local music scene, they moved to Dublin, and it was here that they created their unique brand of classical-flamenco-acoustic-metal fusion. Their fingers were fast and their tours were extensive. As a result, they became a hit at music festivals across the world.
All three of Rodrigo y Gabriela's studio albums were very good, but their quality is especially evident during their live shows. Without the aid of any backing band, they sit on little stools on some of the worlds largest stages, and always succeed in sounding massive. Gabriela's lightning hands beat against the wooden body of her guitar to provide percussion, all the while playing rhythm to Rodrigo's lead guitar. It's like clockwork; a well-oiled machine, and after many times of seeing them live I haven't heard even one missed note.
It's fair to say, then, that Rodrigo y Gabriela are primarily a live act. This is reflected in the number of live albums that they have released - three, including this one; that's one for each album. Live in France is essentially a live version of their latest studio album, 11:11, featuring every song except three. Those are switched out for solo pieces by Rodrigo and Gabriela, which are a real treat, and Tamacun, an old crowd favourite. The album really captures the fiesta-like atmosphere of a Rodrigo y Gabriela show, and the crowd often claps along to Gabriela's constant guitar-knocking. The guitars sound even better here than in the studio - they have a raw, full sound that adds a heap of intensity to these songs, especially the faster, more hectic ones, such as Tamacun.
Together, Rodrigo y Gabriela are a whirlwind of Latin passion and excitement, but the solo performances do a good job of illustrating what it is that they carry out as individuals in order to create their overall sound. Rodrigo seems to be the better guitarist, and his solo is six minutes of brilliant lead guitar, featuring a selection of well-known heavy metal riffs, but Gabriela's solo is more inventive, incorporating her guitar-percussion to create an incredibly interesting piece of music.
Rodrigo y Gabriela are two immensely talented guitarists who took a big risk when they moved to Europe in order to pursue their dreams, and I'm so glad it paid off. Live in France presents them at their best - in a live setting, playing to a crowd who, undoubtedly, are looking on in sheer awe.