The original LawRocks was launched on a hot and sweaty night last June. An even hotter and sweatier 100 Club played host to the inaugural event – a UK battle of the bands for lawyers that raised more than £7,000 for charity.
Last time six groups from five law firms and one barristers’ chambers competed for the right to be crowned Legal Rock Gods, with CMS Cameron McKenna’s The Stragglers emerging victorious.
This year the overwhelming desire of some of the UK’s top lawyers to spend 30 minutes on stage bashing out cover versions of classic tunes is reflected in the expanded LawRocks II.
Where once there was a mere half-dozen acts, this year there will be 12, with another 10 waiting in the wings. The full line-up for this year’s event is listed on the right. It includes some well-known faces from last year, including the winning band from Camerons (which seems to want to push how really badass it is with an expanded band name) The Nasty Stragglers.
“While we’re dreaming about an improbable second title we’ve resigned ourselves to being put back into our rightful place at the bottom of the heap,” says band leader Jonathan Dames. “We’ll be sticking with our tried-and-tested [only covering] ‘bands beginning with K’ strategy.”
Berwin Leighton Paisner’s (BLP) Real State will also make a return, albeit with slightly changed personnel.
“We’ve got a different line-up, quite significantly different, with a sensational new guitarist [BLP trainee Chris Marsden],” reveals BLP partner David Battiscombe, the band’s bassist. “He’s hot and he’s not a ringer. This year we’re going to rock a lot harder.”
Last year, says Battiscombe, no one knew what to expect. As a result he says the firm plumped for a more musical, restrained approach. But not this year.
“We’re going out for a crucial curry to decide what to play,” Battiscombe reveals.
But the set list is not Battiscombe’s primary concern. There is a greater fear, a more sinister looming presence that is already sending shivers down the spines of LawRocks II’s contestants.
“It’s Bob’s swan song,” says Battiscombe. “We’re a bit anxious he might get the sympathy vote.”
For Bob read Kidby, the multi-axed fret-burner from Lovells, who is retiring from the firm in April. Battiscombe’s Kidby-related terrors are echoed by Dames, who says: “We’ll leave the guitar pyrotechnics to Bob Kidby, who’s surely the bookies’ favourite for this year’s title.”
As for the great man himself, Kidby still has not got over being “robbed” last year, but insists his band, The New Teen Titans, will stick to doing more of the same: “Old, bold and noisy.”
Judging by the number of comments the coverage of the event generated last year, most of which seemed to centre on whether Lovells, BLP or (longshot) Keating Chambers had been “robbed”, LawRocks tapped a nerve among frustrated musicians in the legal community.
“This is great fun. I’m really delighted that lawyers are getting into music [and] competition – it makes us more human and healthy,” said one poster.
The amount of beer that was drunk at last year’s event suggests it is doubtful whether it truly made anyone more healthy, but it is undeniable that it was a lot of fun.
And following last year’s spectacular, the vision of Keating senior clerk Nick Child, the brains behind the event, has already expanded significantly: not only does this year’s competition have double the number of bands, LawRocks also plans to go international.
The word on the street in music circles is that LawRocks Melbourne, Washington DC and Dubai are on the cards, while already in the stable is Pensions Rocks and Construction Rocks, the former scheduled for May at the 100 Club.
“The goal is to build a family of charities under the ‘Rocks’ name, raising money for good causes with mates having a good laugh,” says Child. “You can’t beat that.”
Child is hoping that both of this year’s band clashes will raise a similar amount for charity as last year’s.
Watch out for regular updates over the coming weeks as the first of this year’s events draws closer.
Thursday 29 April
Music Matters (Nabarro)
Run DAC (Davies Arnold Cooper)
Real State (Berwin Leighton Paisner)
Rebels Without Applause (Pinsent Masons)
The New Teen Titans (Lovells)
Blake Lapthorn (name tbc)
Thursday 24 June
The Chilly Pipers (DLA Piper)
The Reed Smiths (Reed Smith)
Homer and the Springfields (Addleshaw Goddard)
The Nasty Stragglers (CMS Cameron McKenna)
Rough Justice (Keating Chambers)
Birds of Prey (Bird & Bird)