Concert review: Guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela get crowd on their feet throughout Singapore show

Within half an hour of infectious Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela's sensational show at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Saturday night, the performance already felt like an ecstatic encore - the sold-out crowd of more than 1,500 fans were on their feet and continued to stay off their seats till the end more than an hour later.

There was even a stage "invasion" at the invitation of Rodrigo Sanchez, which is only a slight hint of the daze he and Gabriela Quintero left their happy fans in.

"Go crazy, do whatever you want to do," he said, urging fans to capture the show with their smart phones.

How did Rodrigo y Gabriela rouse the notoriously reticent but appreciative crowd known at Singapore concerts?

Sanchez explained they normally perform at standing-only venues, but after discussions with the organisers and security, they reached an agreement.

Hence the stage invasion invitation - a delightful improvised coup which the audience applauded.

From their own hits of Diablo Rojo all the way to their most famous tune Tamacun, they even managed to prevent the whole show from turning into one where fans stand still while filming or taking pictures.

Their music and their energy, particularly in a live show, make you want to forget everything, forget about social media posts and just soak in the experience, which is what all performers dream of.

For starters, their energetic instrumental music helps.

Non-fans ask if they are a flamenco rock duo. I would say no. There are no flamenco compas rhythms in their music but Sanchez, who plays most of the melody lines, does have Mexican and Spanish stylings in some solo bits.

While there is definitely rock in there (given they were metalheads when they were much younger), their music defies labelling.

My feet start to tap when I think of the trance-like effect of Quintero's unorthodox flamenco-sounding strumming, and her driving rock drum-styled rhythms she creates by banging on her nylon-string Yahama guitar combined with lyrical-sounding knuckle rolls.

Her 360-degree rotations and childlike jumps had the young children on stage and even older adults doing likewise with glee.

Then she proceeded to amaze with a breathtaking solo guitar spell in the middle of the set, using a wah pedal to create an intoxicating mesh of strumming, tapping and arpeggio fills.

Sanchez then stunned everyone when he came on afterwards for his brief solo act, and started to sing and play the guitar.

He sings? Well, I'm sure he had to, during his busking days with Quintero, and he had a pretty decent voice, even if he could not remember some words and cracked a joke about it.

In another nod to their busking origins, Sanchez asked the crowd what song they would like to hear - after their opening two songs.

Apparently, he and Quintero had set out on the current tour not wanting to prepare a set list.

Orion, a Metallica song they have famously covered instrumentally, was a resounding first request. They also performed covers of songs by Stone Temple Pilots (Plush) and Radiohead (Creep), with the help of the "Singapore choir", as they dubbed the fans on stage, in a mass sing-along.

When the concert drew to a close after 9pm, it felt like the end of a long magical night of neverending encores.

Gracias, Rodrigo y Gabriela, for inviting your Singapore crowd to let loose.

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