The Mic's very own Jake Longhurst works as a barman at Rock City, which sparked the idea for 'Barman Reviews', a new feature series on The Mic's website. On November 25th, The Rock Orchestra paid a visit to Rock City for a night of rock and metal’s biggest hits, with a twist. Here are Jake's thoughts, from his unique perspective behind the bar.
Walking up to Rock City, I could already tell it was going to be an easy night on the main bar. The crowd were all very relaxed and it was mostly an older crowd, although there were two people who were only about 25 who’d both put in the effort to make full costumes to match the orchestra, which was very impressive. I was very lucky and was put on my favourite till at the bar, which unsurprisingly is the one on the far left with the best view of the stage.
Before the support act came out, we had a fair number of people coming to the bar who were in quite a chatty mood, which is always good fun, and one in particular held a great conversation about Enter Shikari with me, who I’m on my way to see as I write this. Plenty of pints were poured, which is a staple of a gig night, and as it was an older crowd we ran out of IPA on draught multiple times per tap. One of my co-workers and I have had a joke about the amount of IPA being ordered at each gig night for a few weeks, and when one man came up to the bar, looked around for ages and then eventually pointed to the IPA and ordered four pints of it, we both really struggled to keep a straight face whilst pouring them out.
"It looked incredible, with a large inflatable skull painted in the style of the Dia De Los Muertos skulls from Mexico, and hundreds of candles around the stage"
The support act came out at about 7:30pm, and it was comprised of an excellent singer and keyboardist named Harrisen Larner-Main and a Colombian cellist named Santiago Luna. They played an excellent set, including a cover of Skyfall by Adele and a Coldplay song that I was too busy serving a very irritated man to properly hear, unfortunately. Other than that incident, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the support act. There was then a half hour interval, during which we again poured many pints of beer, and again chatted to some of the attendees, including one man wearing a particularly cool Iron Maiden shirt. The stage set up was fully completed for the Rock Orchestra in this time, and it looked incredible, with a large inflatable skull painted in the style of the Dia De Los Muertos skulls from Mexico, and hundreds of candles around the stage (all artificial for safety, however at the distance we were you couldn’t tell the difference at all).
As the members of the Rock Orchestra walked out, the bar quietened down significantly and stayed almost empty for the duration of the set, allowing my colleagues and I to really enjoy the evening. They started with a high energy cover of Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses, and the crowd were singing along with gusto. This song was a full instrumental, however at different points in the set Harrisen Larner-Main would join the orchestra onstage and provide lyrics. The next song in the set was Seven Nation Army, and a good few of us behind the bar were having a sing along to this (it should be said that I sang along to every song, so if you were in any doubt, yes, I was singing at pretty much all moments) and the crowd lapped this song up, the orchestral version was a hit.
Next up was the first song that Larner-Main joined the orchestra for, although officially he was not supposed to, so we were lucky to be treated to a cover of Billy Idol’s White Wedding with lyrics, as I believe that’s the first time it has happened all tour. I went on a break midway through this song, and proceeded to freeze outside, so came in slightly early, and it wasn’t a moment too soon, as when I arrived back at the bar I heard the drums kick in midway through Stairway To Heaven. I then sung the rest of the song far too loudly, but I was loving it and my supervisor seemed very amused by it all. Seeing as this is one of my favourite songs of all time, I was very glad I’d made it back in before the solo, which always makes me smile even just on Spotify, and this cover was brilliant so I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat for the rest of this track.
"The rest of the main set was also chock full of classics, including In The End, Bring Me To Life, Nothing Else Matters, and a particularly great cover of Killing In The Name"
The rest of the main set was also chock full of classics, including In The End, Bring Me To Life, Nothing Else Matters, and a particularly great cover of Killing In The Name, where Harrisen came out and did vocals again, and plenty of us behind the bar were having a moment screaming along together. The band then announced an encore that was actually entirely unexpected, and finished with Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics into Ace Of Spades by Motörhead, and I can safely say I’ve never seen anyone down a pint quicker than the woman at the bar when she heard the beginning of Ace Of Spades, as she ran off to the middle of the crowd to enjoy the final song of the set.
This was absolutely one of my favourite gigs behind the bar so far. I had a great view, it wasn’t very busy at the bar, all the customers were polite and chatty, and I had a sing along to some great songs. So, all in all, this was a very good show from the bar.
Written by: Jake Longhurst
Edited by: Gemma Cockrell
Featured image courtesy of The Rock Orchestra via Facebook.