When Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo joined Rodrigo y Gabriela onstage at Red Rocks on Sunday, it showed the true strength of the flamenco guitar duo — but not in the way you’d expect. Trujillo’s presence actually began to stifle their energy, rather than add to it. Even though they are only two people with acoustic guitars, Rodrigo y Gabriela hardly need assistance from anyone, let alone an accomplished metal musician.
It’s amazing what a blend of nuevo flamenco, a predilection for thrash metal, wicked crazy guitar skills and a soupcon of latin heat creates. On Sunday at Red Rocks, Rodrigo y Gabriela brought that mixture to produce an unforgettable performance for 9,000 fans.
Throughout the two-hour performance, it was difficult to believe and understand how there were only two people with acoustic guitars on stage. Gabriela Quintero used her acoustic as a full trap set, bass and rhythm guitar. Rodrigo Sanchez, in the meantime, blazed across the fretboard of his acoustic with impossibly fast — and even more impressively perfect — riffs and chords that filled the clear night sky over Red Rocks with awe.
“This is the last night of four months on this tour (for the duo’s latest studio release, “9 Dead Alive”),” Sanchez pointed out after a few introductory jams, “and what better place to end than this beautiful amphitheater.”
Rodrigo y Gabriela are more than merely brilliant guitarists, they’re consummate, excited, happy and appreciative performers. “Tamacun,” perhaps their most recognizable hit, tore open the venue with its speed and passion. During “Diablo Rojo,” the duo showed their guitars as pure rhythmic instruments in ways you’d have to see to believe.
Toward the middle of the set, Sanchez took the stage solo and toyed with the audience, starting a few covers, which culminated in an emotional, sweeping version of Radiohead’s “Creep.”
After an equally impressive encore, they encouraged the audience to leave their seats and approach the stage. The bottom 10 or so rows did move down, and were met with both performers running across the stage, shaking hands and hi-fiving their fans. Besides their skill and passion, it’s this appreciation that makes them who they are. Rodrigo y Gabriela gave their fans what they wanted, and then thanked that audience for being a part of it. Pure class.