The Aristocrats + Godsticks @ The Robin 2 – 8th March 2012

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Review and photos by Rob Stanley

I really do not understand Godsticks or the message they are trying to convey unless it is ‘pop outside for a ciggy cause there is nothing exciting happening here’.  To be totally honest after tonight’s performance I am not even sure how to classify the band.  Are they rock? Psychedelic? psychedelic rock or psychedelic rock funk jazz? The only thing I am 100% certain about is that they are Welsh and by the end of the set I’m past caring. Whatever they are or are trying to be is just foreign to me and leaves me rather confused and a little cold to say the least.

In short: Guitar work was ok, but nothing impressive.  Bass and drums were good, but over powering at times, however vocally I felt they were very weak.  On a positive note, if it wasn’t for the wife of one of Godsticks’ members there would have been no UK tour for the main act, so kudos to the wife at least.

Tonight was a musical master class featuring three of the most accomplished virtuosos in the world in the genre of rock-fusion instrumental music: Rock guitar sensation Guthrie Govan, drum phenomena Marco Minnemann, and bassist extraordinaire Bryan Belle who initially got together to do an impromptu Bass Bash event during NAMM. The three musicians hit it off so well in terms of musical interplay and chemistry that The Aristocrats were born.

If you’re into complex musical compositions, tonal sound-scapes, improvisation and creative spontaneity then this really is the band for you. Never, and I mean never, have I ever witnessed a group of musicians feed off each other in this way. Guthrie’s whimsical dalliance at lightning speed with Pentatonic, Ionian and Lydian scales is a pure joy, not only to watch, but to spiritually inhale as well. With support from Minnemann and Belle, Guthrie is provided with the perfect backdrop from which he can work his magic.

Part way through the set Guthrie comments that he doesn’t usually say much when on stage, but explains that because he had been part of a workshop earlier in the day that he was still in verbal mode. We are then treated to a lesson in sound and how it radiates, and after he saw someone mouthing to her partner that she couldn’t hear the band very well, where the best place to be situated in the venue was to get the full richness of the sound. Bet they didn’t expect that when they purchased their ticket.

It is fair to say that The Aristocrats take the power trio concept to a whole new level. Although there’s no vocals, they are not required as they would only serve as a distraction to Guthrie’s purely enjoyable and intense guitar playing. The Aristocrats set was thoroughly enjoyable and one that exceeded my wildest expectations.

And you can see Rob’s photos from the show here: