A superheated display of rock shapes and sounds last Thursday night (2 June) stole the Law Rocks crown at the third time of asking for Hogan Lovells’ New New Teen Titans.
Lead singer and newly minted HogLove real estate disputes partner Mathew Ditchburn was close to tears as the enormity of what he had at last achieved sank in.
“Cheers,” Ditchburn was heard to say.
Earlier in the evening Ditchburn had been spotted hovering by the entrance to London’s legendary 100 Club offering to buy punters beers in exchange for votes.
“It’s Okay,” he whispered to each in turn, “I’ll just put it on expenses.”
Ultimately the combination of Ditchburn’s Matt Bellamy-style brio on guitar, the rest of the band’s (including John ’High Tower’ Condliffe) tightness and canny song selection – kicking off with a blistering version of Arctic Monkeys’ I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor never hurt anyone’s chances – meant that no such underhand tactics were required.
Seasoned Law Rocks watchers spotted early on that there was something missing from the traditional HogLove line-up.
“Yes, Kidby’s no longer with the band,” Ditchburn revealed, referring to the grandly moustachioed former frontman and ex-Lovells real estate head Bob. “We fired him after a dressing room incident over a vol-au-vent. No, we shan’t work together again.”
Last week’s charity battle of the bands, the sixth in the series launched two years ago by Keating Chambers senior clerk Nick Child and the third this year, was the closest fought so far.
Once all of the four bands – along with HogLove there was also Demolition from Keating, Run-DAC (self-explanatory) and The Stragglers from CMS Cameron McKenna – had stormed the stage to perform a succession of ageless covers it was down to the trio of judges to name the winner.
A public cheer-off made it abundantly clear that, while Ditchburn’s crew were firm favourites as the most musically accomplished on the night, there would always be a place in the hearts of the crowd for the sheer showmanship of Keating’s Demolition, the band led by Shearman & Sterling’s new London managing partner Nick Buckworth.
During what was only the band’s fourth time playing together Buckworth worked the crowd like Mick Jagger on speed, Keating chief executive Paul Cooklin did his best shirtless, bopping Sid Vicious impression on bass, while lead guitarist Marcus Taverner QC did Eric Clapton proud with his plank-spanking histrionics.
The opinion of the judges? “It shouldn’t be legal to have that much fun.”
But even that was not all. While the judges could not separate this pair and demanded a head-to-head playoff, they also decided to throw a third band in the shape of Camerons’ smooth operators The Stragglers into the playoff final mix.
“These guys are such sharp, cool and well-honed professionals they’ll bite our heads off,” one rival was overheard muttering into his beer.
Sources had suggested that Camerons was planning to outsource its entire rhythm section to India, where they would beam their performance in via a Skype connection. That did not happen, but even so the group’s professionalism and sheer desire to add to its already groaning trophy cabinet shone through.
Ultimately, however, Camerons’ combination of crowd-pleasing classics and the effortless ease of frontman Paul Smith was not enough to sway the judges.
Not that there was any convincing a downbeat Ditchburn, who until the last moment remained convinced his band’s track record as perennial runner-up was set to continue.
“Oh, we won’t win,” he sobbed. “I’m going to the bar.”
A minute later Ditchy was on stage, lager in hand, taking a bow and playing Arctic Monkeys.
A combination of a raffle on the night, with Stragglers guitarist Jonathan Dames picking up a Fender Stratocaster signed by the likes of Mike Rutherford from Genesis, Kenney Jones from The Faces and Queen’s Brian May, and door money helped raise thousands for a variety of charities.