Beck Theatre, Hayes
As the snow fell outside, Juan Martín and his ensemble brought a fabulous evening of flamenco to the Beck Theatre, warming the hearts of those who had braved the wintry weather to hear him.
Born in Andalucia, the home of flamenco, Martín is acknowledged as one of the best living exponents of the style and was recently voted one of the world's top guitarists by US Guitar Player Magazine.
When he isn't on tour, he spends much of his time in north London where he founded Flamencovision - an international company which performs and promotes flamenco music.
The chilly temperatures in Hayes meant the maestro had to retune his instrument several times but it didn't seem to slow the fingers of this amazingly accomplished guitarist.
The speed and complexity of his playing was dazzling from the two opening solos of pure flamenco, which he performed before he was joined on stage by woodwind player Paul Fawcus and Greek-born percussionist Chris Karan.
Both added an Eastern flavour to the numbers which followed, weaving the haunting tones of the oboe and the hypnotic rhythms of the tabla with Martín's consummate playing, and introducing the audience to flamenco's Moorish influences.
Instrumental music is just one of the three components of flamenco and as the programme moved on, we were introduced to the other two - el cante (singing) and el baile (dancing).
Manuel Jimenez provided the singing - a deeply emotional ululation ripped straight from the heart - as well as performing several stunning guitar duets with Martín.
And to demonstrate the true art of flamenco dancing, we had Raquel de Luna and Salvador Moreno, nicknamed 'El Tigre'.
This wasn't the slightly flirtatious castanet-clicking, skirt-swishing display put on for tourists in Spain. It was an arrogant, almost aggressive display of sexual energy and bravado in which the dancers snapped their fingers dismissively, slapped their bodies and beat out a complicated rhythm with their feet as they strutted and flounced about the stage. El Tigre, in particular, delivered the most amazingly accomplished displays of footwork which made Riverdance look like an amateur tap-dancing class.
To my disappointment, the pair hardly danced together at all, coming face to face for only three or four smouldering moments in the entire evening - each time at the climax of a display of skills which seemed to be more about competing with the opposite sex than seducing them.
The rest of the time they danced alone - flirting with the audience and encouraging them to applaud their performances, which exhibited all the pride and passion of flamenco's gipsy origins.
During the instrumental numbers, Raquel and Salvador sat alongside the musicians on the stage, calling out compliments and encouragement in Spanish. A few aficionados in the audience added their own appreciative cries of "Bravo!" and "Que bueno!"
This was clearly part of the performance and made me realise that putting flamenco on the stage removed part of its intrinsic character: it's an intimate and interactive musical form which would traditionally have been experienced at close quarters with everyone present contributing, if only with hand claps or shouts of encouragement, and putting a distance between the performers and the audience removes some of its excitement and energy.
But Martín's relaxed conversation between pieces helped to reconnect the two and the Beck's audience didn't seem to think they were missing out on anything, as half of them rose to their feet at the end to give a standing ovation.
Juan Martín has performed at leading musical venues around the world and it was a real coup for Hayes' 600-seater theatre to be included in his UK tour, which is currently heading for Edinburgh.
You can catch his ensemble back down south at the Barbican on May 21. If you want to experience the true spirit of flamenco, don't miss it.