Riots at Law Rocks! as Harbottles steals crown

Pop superstardom came to legal market battle of the bands Law Rocks last night in the legendary form of Blur’s drummer Dave Rowntree, who graced a judging panel tasked with finding a winner from a record eight raucous and unusually sweaty lawyer-led bands.

Indeed, ‘hot’ was one of the themes of the night after the 100 Club’s air conditioning decided not to join the party, a fail that coincided with a sell-out crowd on one of the warmest nights of the year.

Indeed, the heat may have been a contributing factor in the riotous scenes that followed an end-of-the-night sing off between the group from Marks & Clerk Solicitors/Boustred & Co and Harbottle & Lewis, which saw the latter controversially take the crown in a hotly disputed final round. Crowd faves The Defendants were sensationally beaten to the crown by The Harbottle 7, with the judging panel citing the latter’s “greater creativity” and “overall sense of style”.

It was a measure of how seriously the well-watered partisan throng now take the ever more competitive Law Rocks that a full-scale riot at one stage looked on the cards.

Equally harsh perhaps was the intense pressure put on the One Inner Temple Lane band The Bar Mess to play their setlist in full. The band had originally intended to play Blur classic Song 2, until they discovered the identity of one of the judges and bottled it.

Host Damian Hickman, managing director of the International Dispute Resolution Centre, put it to the crowd after The Bar Mess wrapped up their set with a The Kinks medley that they’d surely like to hear their version of Song 2. And once Rowntree himself demanded they play it there was no escape. The Bar Mess bowed to the inevitable, playing a storming version.

On a sadder note, Hickman had kicked off the night when he highlighted the death earlier this year of 59-year-old DAC Beachcroft partner Martin Butterworth.

“Martin had been a huge supporter of Law Rocks since 2010 and was well known among the Law Rocks family for his quest to find the perfect guitar sound, sometimes to the annoyance of his fellow band members,” said Hickman. “At the end of his first Law Rocks gig, Martin said that during one of his guitar solos he’d overheard a member of the audience shout ‘blimey, the old bloke can play!’. The old bloke could indeed play, and he will be sorely missed by all of us.”

Sing off competitor Marks & Clerk/Boustred & Co kicked off the night with a classic blues set, launching the night with the familiar guitar riffs of Chuck Berry’s Jonny B Goode. From there the seven other Law Rocks bands ran through sets of hard rock, new wave, punk, folk and grunge.

The Harbottle 7, which featured ringer and Maxwell Winward solicitor Jon Rowsell on bass, got one of the loudest cheers of the night by taking on Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, complete with rock riffs, dance moves and motorbike helmets.

“You get extra marks for that as it’s a new song, you’ll have had to learn that really quickly,” said Rowntree.

Blur’s sticks man also provided his opposite number in the band from Hogan Lovells. Law Rocks stalwarts the New Teen Titans, with the night’s biggest compliment when his comment on their performance was simply, “Good drummer.”

Legal market battle of the bands Law Rocks has raised more than £200,000 for a variety of charities since it was launched in 2009.

“This was the busiest (and longest) night we ever took on,” said Law Rocks founder Nick Child. “There were so many things stacked against us; time: no air con; seven changeovers to name but three, but I think everyone had as much fun as ever, if not more. This could be the best Law Rocks to date.”

As one happy Law Rocker put it, “What a brilliant, brilliant night. Law Rocks is already in my diary for next year.”

Last night’s line-up in full:

Marks & Clerk Solicitors/Boustred & Co – The Defendants

SJ Berwin – Certified Copies

Harbottle & Lewis – The Harbottle 7

Hogan Lovells – The New Teen Titans

DAC Beachcroft – The DACaBeas

Fasken Martineau – The Ballistic Hedgehoggs

One Inner Temple Lane – The Bar Mess