Rodrigo y Gabriela, Hammersmith Apollo, London

3.00

Dynamic duo win more hearts

For those about to rock, we salute you!" AC/DC scream over the PA, right at the end.

Moments before, Gabriela Quintero is really sweating, happily draining the last drops of energy from herself, hair going lank as she almost headbangs. One last acoustic chord is left hanging like feedback on the stage, while the stadium roar of AC/DC's audience merges with the more refined fervour of Rodrigo y Gabriela's fans right here.

The duo's defiant hybrid can be glimpsed then. They are refugees from Mexico City's metal scene, who literally abandoned electric guitars to apply equal aggressive virtuosity to the acoustic ones they dragged round beaches and hotel bars, playing for change from Mexico to their second home, Dublin. They have absorbed influences voraciously. The title track of their new, sixth album, 11:11, pays tribute to 11 musicians ranging from thrash- metal guitarists to Palestinian oud trios, with a large helping of jazz. Pre-Columbian art and religion from Mexico blurs into Hindu equivalents in their written explanations of their wholly instrumental tracks. But still, they're best known for their cover versions of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Orion".

The real mystery of Rodrigo y Gabriela is that they have taken the sort of virtuosity despised outside of metal since the punk schism of 1976, thrashed it out on acoustic guitars favoured by sensitive singer-songwriters, and gained a growing cult following a small nudge from the real mainstream. More prosaically, these are Mexican buskers who forged a reputation playing on Dublin's streets, and by willed daring now headline the Hammersmith Apollo. The whole affair finds me staring blankly at times, wondering if the punk wars were fought for this. But I'm also amazed once again at how huge sections of the public simply ignore what corporations and journalists tell them to like. There has been, as Rodrigo Sanchez complains, a "painful" lack of radio play here. And how exactly do you hype two hours of often improvised, acoustic instrumental Latin jazz-thrash guitar? But on a rainy, windswept night, which has filled this place to the rafters.

Rodrigo y Gabriela are growing with their cult success: where before they perched on stools, Sanchez now splays his legs like a rock star, while Quintero keeps a foot on the monitors, behind which lie the effects pedals which assist their extraordinary sounds. Theoretically a rhythm guitarist, she beats big, booming chords from her instrument. Her fingers flutter with such dexterity that when she switches to a darbuka (goblet drum), I'm momentarily sure she's strumming strings on its top. When she solos, wah-wah effects sound like weird birdsong or mouth-music. Towards the end of the epic "11:11" she digs out alien beeps and coos, electronically and imaginatively squeezing out everything she can find in the old stringed box of her acoustic guitar.

The alchemy between her and Sanchez is sometimes hidden as they turn fondly towards each other. His own solos switch from aggressive riffing that quotes the White Stripes' "7 Nation Army", to a mode where you can hear the breathy whistle and squeak of the strings. The weepy balladeering of a John Williams peeks out too. When Quintero rejoins him for "Anushka"'s Middle Eastern interlude, arcing blue spotlights also pick out a lower, sombre mood. But the pair are more likely to lightly pogo and encourage cheers from the crowd. For all their commercial oddness and creative curiosity, Rodrigo y Gabriela's secret is maybe quite simple. They are resourceful musicians who can really play, and open-hearted, happy entertainers. That, very often, is what people want.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

film
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The 44-year-old insisted there had been “no fallings out” with the other members of the band
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style