Rock the House Awards 2012 at the House of Commons
Rock The House is the brainchild of MP Mike Weatherley, with last night’s event at the House of Commons representing the culmination of a nationwide campaign to scout out and reward the most promising live talent in the UK. Designed to raise awareness in parliament of musicians’ reliance on live music and intellectual property rights, the showcase evening took place on the picturesque terrace pavilion by the Thames, and was attended by Rick Wakeman and Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy among others. Rock The House patrons Mark Hoppus, Ian Gillan and Yngwie Malmsteen also provided video messages expressing support as well as regret at being unable to attend.
Live music was provided by the winners of both the Solo and Band Categories, as decided by a panel of judges earlier in the day. First up was Jen Armstrong, a remarkably confident and strident-voiced performer who managed to drown out the industry chatter and clink of glasses with a short, piano-led set. Emotional re-workings of Billie Jean and Grenade proved to be the highlights, although her own songs’ somewhat clumsy lyrics were redeemed by a passionate delivery and graceful stage manner.
Following a brief lull, in which fantastic prizes were awarded to the finalist acts and keynote speeches were delivered by concerned MPs, the evening’s entertainment was wrapped up by The Verdict, a dynamic Liverpool three-piece whose three-song set amply demonstrated their versatility – after a jaunty, cowbell-led opener, Rum And Coke harked back to Please Please Me-era Beatles with chiming harmonies and a mournful melody, and Honest came across like a bona fide hit, a heartfelt country hoe-down reminiscent of Mumford & Sons and their ilk.
It is unclear just to what effect the Rock the House movement will have on parliamentary legislation concerning musicians’ and venues’ rights. However, the campaign should be applauded for its commitment to discovering talent and nurturing live music up and down the country – indeed, the biggest cheer of the night came when it was announced that Rock the House 2013 had been given the go-ahead. As one of the patrons remarked earlier in the evening: “If any house needs rocking, it’s this one!”