Articles - Pensions Rocks 2012 Night 2

 The first Night of Pensions Rocks, held at the famous 100 Club, set the rock bar high and as we entered the renowned venue for the second time the mood and enthusiasm of the crowd alone promised the evening to be another great night of rock.
 Compère for the evening was Tom McPhail, also known as @Pensionsmonkey in the twitter world, who again told us that Pensions Rocks has raised £20,000 for charity, a fact which everyone involved should be delighted and proud of. Tom then introduced us to the judges for the evening- Padraig Floyd, Independent Financial Journalist, Chris Budd, MD of Ovation and Louise Dolan, Managing Director at FTI. There was also special mention to the organizers of the event, Stuart Breyer of Redington and Charlie Thomas of Pensions Week – a huge well done to them for pulling together an awesome night for pensions and rock!
 With introductions made we were ready to kick off with AJ ReBELLion, a group from AJ Bell who had travelled from Manchester to take part in Pensions Rocks and who were playing for Prince’s Trust. They kicked off with the modern hit, ET by Katy Perry and made it their own by combining heavy guitar and drums to give the hit a rock twist. The guitar solo was executed well with the enthusiasm and obvious fun which Bernard Yardley was having on the bass being transferred to the crowd, who in turn got moving to the song. We moved from a modern day hit to a classic 80’s number, and when the instantly recognizable riff of Bryan Adam’s ‘Summer of 69’ started the crowd went wild. Strong vocals were supported furthermore by the singing of numerous crowd members being swept down the 80’s memory lane. This was followed by REM’s ‘The one I love’ which again had strong lead vocals and again heavier than the original.
 They then took the mood down a notch with a sultry pperformance of Feeling Good, a song made famous by Nina Simone. The lead singer channelled her inner Simone and her sultry tones provoked an en mass swaying in the crowd to the music. Steve Gillon on drums and Craig Albrecht on lead guitar then raised the roof of the 100 Club by playing fan favourite ‘I Predict a Riot’ by Kaiser Chiefs. What struck me about this band was the range and variety of songs which they played – from rock anthem ‘I predict a riot’ to ‘Feeling good’ – they never faultered and the praise from the audience indicated a strong set.
 Following AJ ReBELLion was Priority 1, from LGIM playing for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Pits called Pensions Rocks and Priority 1 put the rock into pensions by kicking of their set with the heavy classic ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath. With Tom Moysey on lead vocals emulating the great Ozzy Osbourne, but with a little less shuffling, the band gave a rousing rendition of this heavy rock number which provoked some old school head banging from members of the crowd. From the get go the band members were nothing but enthusiastic, with a great performance from Ian Lyall on lead guitar.
 The band had great presence on stage and their confidence was evident with their second song, the 80’s new romantic ‘Rio’ by ladies favourite Duran Duran. This was an instant hit with the crowd, and was made the better because the band made the song their own, giving a heavy rock tone to the famous pop riff. They played their wild card of ‘Rio’ and it went down a hit, and for their last song they brought the song that kicked off the grunge movement, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana. The instant reception to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was nothing but positive and involved a vast amount of screaming. Again, they executed the song perfectly and the crowd managed to emulate the famous video with some semi-agressive moshing on the dance floor. This band had the confidence to do songs which others may not of attempted, in particular ‘Rio’, and for this they must be applauded. A great set which was enjoyed by all.
 Up next were Old Grey Whistle NEST, a group formed obviously from NEST. I am not what you call a die hard Girls Aloud fan, but with NEST’s first rendition of ‘Sound of the Underground’ I might be converted. They managed to take a pop song and make it rock, and not only that the reception form the crowd was deafening and by the second verse singing and dancing was in full swing. What struck me about NEST were the incredible vocals of Emma Winfield (sporting a baby bump and a ‘My Baby Bump Rocks’ t-shirt and Linda Kissi. They brought presence to the stage and, vocally, executed it perfectly.
 Tim Jones on guitar and backing vocals appeared to be a ready made rock god as it appeared he had brought his own groupies for support. The support which NEST brought with them was contagious and by the second song of ‘My Sherona’, the entire crowd was clapping along. The third song- Journeys ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, recently revived by Glee but none the less a classic 80’s number was a real crowd pleaser, and once again executed perfectly through strong vocals and lead guitar. As with AJ ReBELLion and Summer of 69’, the crowd were only more than happy to support the band with not only their enthusiasm but by singing along. The last song was another 80’s classic which brought rap and rock together for one of the first times in popular music history, ‘Walk This Way’ by Run-DMC & Aerosmith. The lead vocalists done a fantastic job of performing both the rap and rock elements to the song and once again the crowd were only to happy to respond to a resounding rendition of a rock classic by singing. Indeed, I think there were a few members of the audience who if they want a career change, rap artist may be a viable choice. Once again a very high standard by a band who had the stage presence and a crowd pleasing set list.
 The next band up were the Racket of the Lambs, and if their were points for appearance then they would have certainly won. The gentlemen of the group looked dapper with an edgy rock look in dark black suits, whilst the backing singers brought both glamour and rock to the stage in black dresses and knee high boots.
 A special mention has to go to Henry Tapper who was billed as a ‘Bez’ type from the Happy Mondays. Bez eat your heart out because Henry had some moves. Indeed Mr Tapper’s dancing was received so well from the crowd that we may see an influx of dancers for next years Pensions Rocks! Starting off with ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ we knew we were in for a blues infused set. After a great start some of the band members decided their hats and jackets were too hot and may have regretted throwing the hats into the crowd as there was a message sent out later on in the night to recover the missing hats. The next song begun with guitarist Ben Mulroney launching into one of Keith Richards greatest riffs ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’. Simon Key on lead vocals really owned this song and his chemistry with the rest of the band really made for a great performance.
 Everybody in the building was singing along when ‘Angels’ by a certain ex Take That member begun. Henry and Simon staring into each other’s eyes whilst singing was a sight to behold with swaying from the crowd as their backdrop. Finishing with a powerful ‘Mustang Sally’ picked the crowd back up into dancing mode and the most stylish band of the night were a real hit.
 The next band up were DB/DC of MHP Communications, and kicked off their set, led by heavy guitar, with Teenage Kicks which elicited a huge response from the crowd. Every band needs a frontman who can ‘swagger like Jagger’ and DB/DC certainly found one in Ben Larter. This enigmatic front man created an electrifying atmosphere whilst playing and communicating with the crowd throughout. The Dandy Warhols song ‘Bohemian Like You’ reaffirmed the buzz this band were generating and showed that a classic 4 piece band with simple riffs, hard drumming, ‘ruthlessly efficient bass’ and a great front man is all that is needed to create great rock music. The Killers song ‘All the things that I’ve done’ was performed well before DB/DC finished off with ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ by The Beatles. A great all round band that played outstanding rock songs. DB/DC were here in aid of the charity Sense.
 Last but by no means least we had Metallorica, whose inspired play on their company name Lorica had everyone very slightly mildly amused. This bands gimmick came in the form of a front man in a full length red dress and by handing out lyric sheets to the audience in the hope of obtaining a mass sing along. And it worked when crowd members were chanting back at the band the lyrics of the usually ‘impossible to know the lyrics to’ ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by The Ramones. This was punk that the 100 Club has not seen since Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious were tearing up this very stage in 1976.
 Once again another 4 piece band making great sounding music. The guitars on show here were the most rock n roll thing we’ve seen since Spinal Tap. ‘Come as you are’ By Nirvana came next and gave the chance for some great vocals and guitar work from Tobin ‘Tbone’ Murphy-Coles and David Barville. As you may have noticed- Actuarial Posts motto on drumming is “The harder the better” and Tom Coles didn’t disappoint. Obviously Metallorica had to play a Metallica song and their choice was ‘Whiskey in the Jar’. If the band were to start touring as a Metallica tribute band then we’d be first in line for tickets because they sounded like a reincarnation of Lars ‘Napster is the enemy’ Ulrich and the boys.
 The sets penultimate song was ‘Blister in the Sun’ by The Violent Femmes. Vocals were once again great on this and Tbone had his rock god shoes on by now to interact with the crowd. This was a man who similar to Tim Jones of The Old Grey Whistle NEST, seemed to have some budding groupies in the audience. When your set is rounded off with a man in a dress singing Gay Bar, you know that it is going to go down well. All in all Metallorica were a great band made better by the gimmicks. I think I even spotted an inflatable guitar in the crowd during this set? The band were here raising money for The Neuroblastoma Society.
 The winners on the night were.... Drum roll please...... The Old Grey Whistle NEST! Forming on stage once again, with a crowd chant of ‘Jonesy Jonesy Jonesy’ directed at their axe wielding CEO, the band had no encore prepared so ran their Girls Aloud tribute from earlier in the night.
 Once again all of the bands were very impressive and maintained the very high standard set on the first night of Pensions Rocks 2012. Congratulations to all of the acts and I’m sure all will be vying for the winners title next year!
 A full review of Pensions Rocks will be available in the March issue of Actuarial Post magazine.
 Missed last night? See the pictures and review of last night here

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