Articles - Pensions Rocks 2012- Opening Night!

 Set in the 100 Club, Oxford Street, this renowned venue has played to a host of legendry names, and the walls of famous faces should have an additon....Pensions Rocks. Entering the venue the excitement and mood was palpable focusing everyone’s minds away from a long day at work on pensions, to a night of hard rock. As everyone de-stressed from work and prepared for a night of rock we were introduced to our host - Shadow pensions minister Gregg McClymont. He informed us that Pensions Rocks has raised over £20,000 for charity, so well done to everyone who has contributed and was prepared to rock on! We were also introduced to the judges for the evening MGM music correspondent Paul Keeble, Editor of Pensions Week and Editor of James Redgrave and financial journalist Elizabeth Pfeuti stepping in at the last minute for Margaret De Valois.
 The first band to greet the crowd was Towers Watson in the guise of Funds N’ Roses. The band tuned, got ready and then out blasted a favourite sure to please the judges, Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’. The vocals were strong and rhythm and timing spot on, but what really blew me away was the guitar solo in which Roman Subbotin channelled his inner Eddie Van Halen. Further to a great guitar solo, the rhythm guitar & bass also got 10 out of 10 from me for rock poses, especially liked the classic back to back guitar playing pose. After ‘Beat It’ Funds’ N’ Roses may of been trying to sweeten the judges with ‘Simply the Best’, but again strong vocals and instrumental meant another well played song. As a self confessed Bon Jovi fan I was delighted with their next choice of ‘Living on a Prayer’, and again was a strong performance being led with good vocals. They then took on a very brave song, Aretha Franklin’s ‘RESPECT’. However, lead singer Louisa Ardley stood up to the mark and this classic had everyone singing along. All in all a strong performance with some outstanding guitar solos and good vocals. Funds N’ Roses charity of choice is The Children’s Trust.
 The second band and hotly anticipated band due to last year’s performance was Schroders White Tiger. As soon as I heard the first few bars of Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ I was impressed by the fact that they had chosen such a hard song, vocally, to emulate. However, lead singer Carol Shand was absolutely fantastic. Her vocal performance wowed the crowd whilst her band supported her throughout with good instrumental and backing singing. I must say I was extremely impressed with the song choice and performance and was eagerly waiting their next song, which was ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ by Blondie. After her best Debbie Harry impression Carol burst into ‘Alone’ by Heart. This was followed by a very topical performance of recent Brit winner Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’. Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’ was the penultimate song and produced a mass sing along before the finale of ‘I believe in a thing called love’ by The Darkness gave guitarist Charlie Jewkes the chance to get his solo on and do some rock posing for the cameras! Their performance stood out due to the incredibly strong vocal performance and the lead singer’s presence. However, her band and back-up were flawless throughout leading to a well rounded, stunning set. Schroders were collecting for Cancer Research.
 Standard Deviation were up next. As the name suggests this was Standard Life Investments' entry to Pensions Rocks. Wearing matching band t shirts they kicked off with Stiltskins ‘Inside’ there were many left and right looks in the crowd to see if they were not the only ones who didn’t know the song. Next up was a cover of ‘Hard to Handle’ by The Black Crows which forced the crowd to move around. The band then had the audience banging their very own bricks in the wall with a version of Pink Flloyd’s classic. This was followed up by ‘Sledgehammer’ by Peter Gabriel before some incendiary guitar work from George “Plectrum-picking” Emmerson on ‘Ziggy Stardust’ by David Bowie. Standard Deviation were raising money for the Standard Life Charitable Trust.
 Next up on the stage were Mercer in the guise of Casino. Starting off with Blink 182’s ‘All the small things’, everybody knew that this set was going to be one to remember as soon as front man Matthew ‘Shades’ Demwell made his way from the stage into the front of the crowd trying to incite a mosh pit. This was followed up by an explosive ‘Brianstorm’, the Arctic Monkeys hit. Matthew then introduced the next song as their ‘la la’ song. Expecting a power ballad the crowd thought it was getting a rest but ‘Starlight’ by Muse kept them dancing. The band were introduced brilliantly for the next song, each starting to play their instrument as their name was called to build up the intro to ‘Last Nite’ by The Strokes until Shades himself screamed the first two words and the crowd went crazy. Following this up with ‘Mr Brightside’ by The Killers and a megaphone had many among the crowd thinking Casino had one hand on the title. Crowd interaction and a front man reminiscent of Damon Albarn when he could actually sing, and not to mention Sebastian Cheek looking as if he was going to destroy the drum kit he was hitting it that hard, were key factors in this outstanding performance. Casino were raising money in aid of Help for Heroes.
 Next up were F&C Investments as ‘Pink Torpedo’ who kicked off in old school style with Ace of Spades with strong vocals and a hard rock baseline. Now seeing as that lead singer Carl Yearwood had previously told me that the band had only practised around 6 to 7 times, I was knocked off my feet by their rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Child’. As a Jimi fan, this performance hit all the right notes and someone unsuspecting might have believed Jimi had risen again. Again, characterized by strong vocals, Pink Torpedo led us through Johnny B. Goode which got the crowd dancing before ending with ‘Song 2’ by Blur which definitely enticed some head-bangers out of the crowd. Overall another set driven by strong vocals by a band with fantastic range with no need of any gimmicks. Pink Tornado were collecting on behalf of The Backup Trust.
 Mosch from Aviva Investors, came to the stage following a strong set by Pink Tornado, but did not let the crowd down with a frenetic cover of White Stripes’ ‘Fell in love with a girl’. This was followed by our second Blondie cover with ‘One way or another’ and had lead singer Wendy Svirakova showing her voice was as good as anybody else on the night. The crowd were again in full swing and didn’t calm down for Arctic Monkeys best sing along track ‘When the sun goes down’- a song that seemed very apt with our venue being situated just north of Soho. Moving on to another big sing along track with Florence and the Machine’s ‘You’ve got the love’, Mosch really were crowd favourites for their anthems.
 The winners of this first night as chosen by the judges were the magnificent Pink Torpedo of F&C Investments. Big congratulations to them and the win was fully deserved. We wouldn’t have liked the judge’s job though because all of tonight’s acts were magnificent!
 All in all the object of the first night of Pensions Rocks was to raise money and listen to some really good rock music. Those things were both achieved last night. The bands on night 1 have certainly set the bar high and I, for one, cannot wait for night 2 tonight!
 A full review of Pensions Rocks will be available in the March issue of Actuarial Post magazine.
 The Judges
 Funds & Roses
 White Tiger
 Standard Deviation
 Pink Torpedo

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