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  SCHOOL'S IN AND IT'S AN A-PLUS AT THE CHISWICK INVASION
9th March 2017

sara harding
Words: Sara Harding, Pictures: Steve Barker



chiswick invasion

It's 6.00pm and nearly all of London's rock royalty is the packed into the Chiswick School hall for the second year of the Chiswick Invasion – a brilliant mix of kids, teachers and rock stars all rocking out for Nordiff Robbins charity.

This event is the brainchild of Thomas Gers and he should know how to put on a great gig as he's the 13-year-old nephew of Iron Maiden's Janik Gers and putting on a fantastic show is definitely in his DNA. Maiden management is here and the MC of this sell out gig for charity is none other that Dave Shackleton – a true ledge who makes an ordinary thank you speech extraordinary. This is one rock'n'roll assembly and he is the headmaster.

chiswick invasion

As the cheaply priced wine flows the kids take to the stage ably assisted by maths teacher Toni Corbin who keeps the children (and us grown-ups) in order. First on the line-up are The Martians from Year Seven whose rousing cover of 'Let it Be' had us all singing along. The confidence of these kids is amazing – if I'd had half their talent and swagger I'd have been in Black Sabbath by the time I was ten.

Then it's time for a large slice of indie rock from sextet Cut Short whose young female singer has the singing chops of Beth Ditto – we'll be seeing her on screen soon. Up next is Crimson and their Muse cover was so accomplished they could be playing Wembley not W4. By now the dance floor is filling up and the power punches are coming out. It was like being back at your favourite disco but with no cheesy ballads, just rock.

chiswick invasion

The school of rock continues with all female quartet The Hummingbirds who are so talented, they already have their first single out. Four incredible rock maidens who wrote and performed their whole set flawlessly. Then it's an A-Plus for effort from the Elastic Band, which is made up of Chiswick School Staff, our favourite Caretaker Harry Deegan and our host with the most Tom Gers who now takes to the stage, and by now his entourage of teen groupies are screaming and swooning. Their take on Van Morrisson's 'Brown Eyed Girl' has us all up and dad dancing.

Up next it's 'grown-up time' as the mature (well only in their 20s) Hekz take to the stage with their unique Metal prog set. As ever this band are polished and prog-tastic. Matt's vocals set the school hall shaking and we are treated to a glimpse of what their new album will sound like and it's epic, ending with a very fitting version of Iron Maiden's 'The Trooper' and once again Master Gers joins the band to give us the killer solo on this very apt cover. Everyone is shouting "Scream for me Chiswick".

chiswick invasion

Shot Through The Heart take to the stage now and they give us great classic rock. They are more polished than the caretaker's floors and even Andy Nathan is up and shaking his mullet to this AOR fest as the lyrics to Rainbow's 'Since You've Been Gone' are geniously changed to: "Your poison Twitter, your Instagram." Slaves are up next and Romeo's Daughter's Leigh Matty takes the lead. Her voice is as always spellbinding and they wow us with their prognographic set.

Planet Rock DJ Daren Redick performs bass duty with The Griffins, another supergroup formed for this rocking event with Let's Zep leg-end Billy Kulke giving us Robert Plant like no other. There's more pouting and posing than Ben Affleck in Zoolander and we are lapping it up.

chiswick invasion

The final supergroup to take to the school stage is Men With Beards with very special guest star, 10-year-old Archie (son of our very own MetalTalk's Chris Dale) who wows us with his killer riffs, his killer jump of the drum stack and his nod to Kiss on his full size Ibanez is stunning – Slash you better watch out.

The crowd go mad for this mix of yoof and legends with vocals by Doogie White classy as ever with a setlist that had us all rocking out, featuring anthems like 'Rock N' Roll', 'The Boys Are Back In Town' and of course the encore of all encores 'School's Out'. And then it's over, but thankfully before the slow dances come on and our dads arrive to taxi us home.

chiswick invasion

Tom Gers is the rock version of Tom Hanks in Big – he's a 49-year-old in a 13-year-old body and he’ll be putting on the next Live Aid, that's for sure. Bring on Chiswick Invasion Three!

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chiswick invasion

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