A change of venue, a change of pace and a mighty change in decibel levels were all on display at the first-ever all-acoustic Law Rocks!, the legal market battle of the bands charity fundraiser which rolled into town again on Wednesday (6 November).
This time Law Rocks’ traditional 100 Club home gave way to Balham’s The Bedford, a venue internationally known for hosting acoustic artists and unearthing talent.
Wednesday’s Law Rocks Unplugged didn’t disappoint on the latter front. Seven bands crammed with legal expertise showed off the fact that their musical talents matched their black letter law skills, and all considerably less raucously than is usual at its iconic Oxford Street spiritual home.
But regular Law Rocks compere Damian ‘Charlie’ Hickman, managing director of the IDRC, made sure that the tone of the evening retained at least something of its more regular rock ‘n’ roll feel.
“Why do we do it?” asked Hickman. “Because it gives lawyers an excuse to get up onstage at iconic venues to play music. And why here tonight? To raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.”
Hickman told the audience how in the four years since Law Rocks launched it had grown from a single event with six bands to an international network of shows in London, Los Angeles, Chicago and, next year, Mexico City with well over 30 bands from law firms, barristers chambers and other legal market organisations.
Hickman got one of the best laughs of the evening when, while outlining the charitable reasons behind Law Rocks, he called for quiet, targeting a bunch of rowdier fans at the bar who were still talking loudly.
“I don’t blame you,” quipped Hickman, “I remember the first time I had a drink, I was exactly the same.”
Well, you had to be there.
When it came time for the bands, first up was patent and trade mark attorneys Kilburn & Strode. What ultimately turned out to be a 10-piece band complete with backing singers and a brass section kicked off the night with just a solo singer and a guitarist. And from the first notes of Adele’s Someone Like You, it was clear that the quality benchmark for the evening had been set high. Simple, effective, stunning.
Six more bands followed including power blues from Marks & Clerk, a sharp-suited 1960s fest from Squire Sanders and more ethereal singing from Michelmores’ sweet but nameless double act (immediately christened ‘Wild Sex Party’ by Law Rocks founder Nick Child) and fronted by the Nabarro trainee with the stonkingly beautiful voice of Lauren Green.
While the judges conferred on what proved to be one of the tightest-ever Law Rocks, the owner of the Bedford and Cutting Crew keyboardist Tony Moore took to the stage to sing his 1980s number one, ‘I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight. Cue epic audience singalong.
Then it was time to announce the top three. Kilburn & Strode and Michelmores took third and second respectively but it was the all-female, guitar and drums duo from Mills & Reeve (bizarrely known as ‘No’) that snared the top spot and the chance to entertain the well-refreshed crowd once more.
“Wow, what a night,” said Child, formerly of Keating Chambers and now managing director of Navigant’s global construction practice, in an email yesterday to all seven bands. “Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, you guys pull off (or put on) the best Law Rocks night ever. You were all amazing, and the crowd absolutely loved you all, as did we. Roll on the next Unplugged.”
The night was in aid of Cystic Fibrosis, a cause close to the heart of one of the panel of four judges, 4 New Square’s French horn-playing silk David Turner QC.
The insurance specialist was more successful than Hickman in silencing the audience when he movingly recounted discovering not only that his three-year-old daughter had cystic fibrosis but also that he and his wife were carriers of the CF gene. They had, said Turner, therefore given her the disease and had to deal with that reality every single day.
“On behalf of the Cystic Fibrosis community, please could I express our thanks for such a fantastic evening and for the support which you are all providing, through Law Rocks, for the cause of those affected by CF,” said Turner yesterday. “Vicky [Bratherton of CF Trust and another member of the judging panel] and I were completely blown away by last night.”
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.
And fans of the 100 Club need not worry. The end-of-year Six of the Best competition, which will see previous winners including ‘No’ take to the stage to compete for the title of all-conquering Law Rocks outfit, is next Thursday.
At the 100 Club.
Full line up:
Someone Like You
Marks & Clerk/Boustred & Co
Son of a preacher man
Dream a Little Dream of Me
Englishman in New York
Mills & Reeve
Take your mama
You Know I’m No Good
CMS Cameron McKenna
Wish You Were Here
The Wild Ones