Rodriguez – – Live Review – 15 December 09

Rodriguez is a genuine Legend, a fact we are reminded of throughout tonight’s show, not only by the performance itself, but by the shouts from the audience gathered at Islington’s intimate, hallowed and usually hushed, Union Chapel. Support act, Wand (formerly Wooden Wand) send delicate, acoustic shards reverberating around the chapel, dedicating one song to the recently deceased Jack Rose (with the wry disclaimer that if it turned out badly, it would be dedicated to Maggie Thatcher). After a short break, the humble Rodriguez, dressed in black and ever-present shades, is helped on-stage by members of his young band (who can hardly have been born when his albums were first released in the early 1970s) and proceed to let loose an almighty noise. So loud, in fact, that on occasion, his vocals are totally lost in a blur of over-exuberant drum and guitar. But this doesn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm one bit. In between songs, they hang on his every word – the secrets of life (’Keep breathing!’) and love (’Free love is too expensive’) relishing every moment spent in the same room as the living legend that is Sixto Rodriguez. The crowd-pleasing set from his two, now classic albums, includes ‘To Whom It May Concern’, ‘Crucify Your Mind’, ‘I Think Of You’ (’I thought of you when I wrote this), ‘Climb Up On My Music’, ‘Rich Folk’s Hoax’, ‘Like Janis’ and, of course, ‘Sugar Man’ is greeted with cheers from the faithful of all ages, some who have waited years to see Rodrigez in the flesh. Closing with a rock’n’roll medley as an encore, Rodriguez’s smile stretches from ear to ear, he’s obviously thrilled to be back on stage, playing his music to a brand new audience. The Legend continues.

(Keith Baker)

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