The notoriously talented trio THE ARISTOCRATS consisting out of renowned drummer Marco Minnemann, guitar virtuoso Guthrie Govan and bass guitar wizard Bryan Beller have left their mark in the progressive rock industry with their fusion project. We saw the band in 2018, and their show had made a huge impression on us, combining humor with intricate progressive instrumental music. When the band decided to come back to Helsinki at Virgin Oil on 2 December 2019, we knew we had to be present.
The band recently released a new album “You Know What?” and has been touring in support of it. Needless to say, quite much of the setlist was dedicated to this new album, but the band also left in space for some classics. Starting the evening with “Mule Train”, the band immediately impressed a packed Virgin Oil with their wizardry and skillful playing style.
An evening with THE ARISTOCRATS doesn’t only mean that you are treated with lots of outstanding music, it also means that you get to hear the often funny backstory behind the songs usually introduced by Bryan Beller, sho does the bulk of the talking to the audience. While introducing “D-Grade Fuck Movie Jam”, he explains the band usually gets raving reviews, however, there was one terrible review of the band, which then formed the inspiration for this song. From then on the band played a consecutive string of tracks from “You Know What?”, each member introducing the tracks that they wrote. The stories often being really funny captivate the audience, and make them often chuckle, an excellent way to keep the audience invested in their show. After a couple of tracks, the band returns to their debut album during “Get it Like That”. In “Last Orders”, virtuoso Guthrie Govan talks about something that really frustrates him in the United Kingdom, where bars close before midnight. Last Orders, or last call in Finland, is a concept Guthrie Govan can’t get behind, as it always makes him sad. The band continues with “Kentucky Meat Shower”, and for this concert Guthrie Govan, while explaining the track, had the illustrated book by Mick Sullivan to support his story making up for a hilarious introduction for the song. The band continued, and right before they wanted to end their set, a somewhat intoxicated fan comes to the stage and tries to explain that you can’t buy alcohol in the stores after 9 pm. Bryan Beller luckily knows how to deal with him, and told him he’s about 40 minutes late with this information as they already have played “Last Orders”, the fan then enthusiastically turns around and starts spinning to “Smuggler’s Corridor”, the last song of the evening which also included a singalong.
The evening had all the ingredients to be a great success, Minnemann‘s otherworldly drumming, Beller who makes it all come together with his often funky and groovy bass skills, and Govan who is intriguing to watch as he can play with any style, with speed, beautiful nuances, and an enchanting feel to it. Just like that came the conclusion of an extravaganza of brilliant musicianship and entertainment. These guys have managed to transform their crazy prog fusion project to an engaging experience live, therefore the band is definitely one of the best prog acts, and definitely is a must-see for any lover of the genre!
- Mule Train (Frankie Laine cover)
- Blues Fuckers
- D-Grade Fuck Movie Jam
- Spanish Eddie
- When We All Come Together
- The Ballad of Bonnie and ClydeP
- Get It Like That (incl. drum solo)
- Last Orders
- The Kentucky Meat Shower
- Desert Tornado
- Smuggler’s Corridor (Encore)