The rock ‘n’ roll ante is cranked up to 11 as the UK legal market’s battle of the bands makes some ear drums bleed. Possibly.
This month saw the return of legal market battle of the bands Law Rocks, now celebrating both five years in existence and, through its expansion across the globe, the donation of £250,000 to charitable causes.
A brace of shows top and tailing the month got the year off to a flyer. First it was off to a sold-out 100 Club on 1 May, where five new bands appeared along with some familiar faces.
Former Blake Lapthorn guitarist Adrian Griffiths pulled together a band more than qualified to open, and they did so with a killer set that included Teenage Kicks, the first song ever played at Law Rocks, a detail picked up by the judges.
Newbies Weightmans followed, having travelled down from Liverpool and lived up to their home city’s reputation for producing great bands. Kings Of Leon, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Black Sabbath were belted out. In a rocking but clinical set, the drummer and lead guitarist stood out as a huge talents, matched only by a belting lead singer.
Law Rocks regulars Blake Lapthorn were up next with a bit of a coup – the first time a mother and daughter had appeared on the Law Rocks stage together. The sort of performance that Blake Lapthorn have become known for followed, from the 13-strong band including a brass section. Stevie Wonder’s Superstition was belted out with vigour, together with a huge rendition of Proud Mary.
Then it all went quiet. First timers Ashurst took no time at all to set up on stage, given that there were only two of them. Acoustic guitarist Neil Ziatabari and cellist Niall Trainor were the first acoustic act to take to the 100 Club stage in a Law Rocks competition.
Belting out a technically superb set that included Smashing Pumpkins, The Smiths and Oasis, they had the whole club singing along.
Kilburn Strode were up next, following on from their debut last year at Law Rocks Unplugged. They didn’t disappoint. The lead singer did Adele proud with Rolling In The Deep, and continued with a brave set, including a rousing Forget You.
Finally, Proven To Rock, the winners of Expertise Rocks! earlier this year and the band from Proven Legal Technologies, came on to belt out their set. Last on isn’t always a good thing at Law Rocks, but Proven To Rock demonstrated how it should be done. A huge singalong set ensued including a banging Seven Nation Army.
The judges (Ian Robinson, managing director of Tempus Delay Analysis; Anthony Carroll, front man of thrash metal band TRC; and Grace Child, daughter of Law Rocks founder Nick Child) took their time in making their decision.
Compere Damian Hickman, managing director of the IDRC and the talkative half of Law Rocks, eventually pushed them into submission.
Weightmans and Blake Lapthorn came in for special praise, coming third and second respectively, but Ashurst was announced as the winner to an eruption of applause from the crowd.
A cracking encore from the Ashurst duo Neil and Niall followed, which again had the 100 Club singing along.
Guitarist and vocalist Neil Ziatabari said of Ashurst’s victory: “It was clear from the sound checks that the quality of these bands is very high, so we weren’t hopeful to win but just felt honoured to have an opportunity to play at this world-famous venue in front of such a great crowd. The evening was a huge success for everyone involved and it’s proved to be a highly entertaining and effective way of raising money for some very worthy causes. Our win came as a real surprise but we’re very pleased and are even more delighted to have raised a decent amount for our chosen charity, London’s Air Ambulance, as a result.”
Fast forward from the heat and noise of the 100 Club to the relative serenity of the Bedford in Balham for Law Rocks! Unplugged, which took place on Wednesday 21May.
Ashurst duo Neil and Niall were back for more, wondering if they might just win this one too. They faced competition from Weightmans, CMS Cameron McKenna, Marks & Clerk/Boustred & Co, Mills & Reeve and HowardKennedyFsi.
The night opened with the HKFsi trio’s set which included a crowd-pleasing Rockstar by Nickelback. Weightmans’ trio followed having once more travelled all the way from Liverpool, and they didn’t disappoint. An inventive re-written version of Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls entitled Baggy Bottomed Boys had the crowd giggling.
Stalwarts The Stragglers from CMS Cameron McKenna performed to their usual high standard, but this time with an exceptional violinist adding to the performance hugely. Previous Unplugged winners Mills & Reeve were up next with a revamped (and doubled in size to four) line up and had the whole crowd in their pocket it seemed. Marks & Clark were up next, with their wonderfully soulful singer getting everyone singing along, and completing the line up were Neil and Niall from Ashurst, the winners at the 100 Club only 20 days earlier.
Again, they wowed the crowd with their performance and it quickly became not one voice singing, but 201. There could be only one winner though, and after a play off between Ashurst and Mills & Reeve (during with the HowardKennedyFsi singer got pushed onto the stage by the crowd to sing beautifully with Ashurst’s Neil), Mills & Reeve left the Bedford victorious for the second time at Unplugged.
Is anyone good enough to take their Law Rocks! Unplugged crown? We shall see next year.
Law Rocks! returns to the 100 Club on 5 June.