The Aristocrats @ Club Academy 15/12/15

The Aristocrats @ Club Academy 15/12/15

The-Aristocrats-Tres-Caballeros

The Aristocrats @ Club Academy 15/12/15

Another supergroup? Yep. But this one has a subtle difference, there are no ego’s on display and they are true friends with a great sense of humour between them. Not only that they also have supreme musical skills, the crème de la crème, they are the cats whiskers. Guitarist Guthrie Govan and bassist Bryan Beller have serious credibility too having recently worked with Steven Wilson and Joe Satriani respectively and drummer Marco Minneman who has worked with both and they had already performed in Manchester several times this year.

The band recorded their third album Tres Caballeros (a huge improvement in sonic quality, breadth and depth from the previous two albums) and they are in town to promote it. There was a support band slated to perform but they pulled out for reasons I haven’t been able to confirm and The Aristocrats decided to bring their stage time forward to 8pm and they didn’t make much of an effort to tell people. I arrived at 8:15 and consequently missed the first three songs (so no pictures even though I had a photo pass), and I wasn’t alone in arriving late. About 1/3 of the audience arrived after me so some only saw the last hour of the gig – poor form The Aristocrats, very poor form.

So the first piece I caught was Texas Crazy Pants, the result of a woman hugging bass player Bryan Beller in a car park in Texas for $150 and the piece sounded like a mad dash around the car park. Pressure Relief, written and introduced by Minneman, was slower and featured said drummer also playing a synth; it sounded very similar to John Abercrombie’s Timelapse. The title track of the second album Culture Clash was inspired by a combination of travelling from gig to gig and the Coen Brothers film A Serious Man which in itself is about weird things in different lands.

 

Wolverall Stomp, the result of a soundcheck jam between bass player and dummer resulted in a piece with an interesting swing to it. The obligatory bass solo was fairly standard jazz stuff and wasn’t unpleasant and it ended with some ridiculously fast country style playing from Govan.   The guitarist then introduced us to Oink, their feisty and energetic yet sole remaining rubber farmyard mascot who in turn introduced a sad song in the form of Pigs Day Off with Govan sounding a lot like Bill Connors. It didn’t sound too sad to me.

Desert Tornado dramatically sped things up but featured a 10 minute drum solo (although it felt longer). Seriously? Yes, seriously. Drum solos need outlawing and this was 10 minutes too long. We all know he is such an amazing drummer but does he need to prove it further? Apparently he did.

Smugglers Cove, influenced by Breaking Bad but sounding more like the music from the spaghetti westerns with a nod to The Shadows and more of Govan’s high speed runs along with some audience participation which seemed oddly out of place but showed the bands sense of humour. A high speed jazz workout ensued in the Kentucky Meat Shower with the guitarist showing off his Albert Lee style chops with some serious country picking.

The whole performance was one big slab of dissonant chords and obscure runs, strange and oblique time signatures, serious shredding layered upon even more shredding and general progtastic instrumentalism on another level entirely. The sheer virtuosity in tonights performance was pouring out of the individuals on stage appealing to an unsurprisingly 95% male audience! And that is where the problem lies; technically the band are monstrously good but they lack soul. Everything they played was incredibly well played but it left me cold, much colder than it was outside.

 

Words: Anthony Firmin

Photo: Mike Mesker

The SoapGirls - Calls For Rebellion CD Review

The SoapGirls - Calls For Rebellion CD Review

Stormbringer - Blood And Rust - CD Review

Stormbringer - Blood And Rust - CD Review