rock orchestra by candlelight review
| | |

Rock Orchestra by Candlelight at Milton Keynes theatre

I was sad last year to have missed out on tickets for Rock Orchestra by Candlelight in Oxford, so was pleased to get tickets for Milton Keynes when this new UK tour came round.  Milton Keynes is my preferred theatre (outside of Warwick Arts Centre), purely for the ease of parking and the more modern comfortable seats (and legroom if you choose the right seats).

rock orchestra by candlelight review

*Ad – contains affiliate links

I love being an ATG+ member* despite the membership price rapidly increasing, because the offers can be really good. I definitely more than break even, just buying one ticket at a time in the savings for booking fees. This time it was a one night only show, so I don’t think I got any discounts, but I did get my favourite seating area.

Read about my thoughts on theatre etiquette and tips taking children.

Here’s what I thought about the Rock Orchestra by Candlelight show at Milton Keynes.

Rock Orchestra by Candlelight staging and costumes

The Rock Orchestra is made up of classical musicians but playing rock (and a couple of classical tracks in rock style).  The staging is set like Festival of the Dead with skulls, gothic church stained glass windows and loads of candles across the front of the stage and behind them.  It’s really impactful, although it was a shame it couldn’t be real candles for full impact.

The musicians’ outfits match the theme with them mostly in skeleton and black outfits, all masked with glitter masks. It’s very effective.  The female singer was in gothic ballgown although disappointingly the male singer turned up in dark gear he might just be wearing day to day. But overall the look and feel was very different and made it feel something a bit more special.

The lighting was also great with each track having different effects and colours.  If you have a problem with strobe lighting, this definitely isn’t a show for you.  The man one side of my left during the first track they played, the woman left to check on him, then came back to grab their stuff and didn’t return. So I can only assume they’d booked not noticing the strobe warnings.

rock orchestra by candlelight set

Rock Orchestra – the music

Not being someone who buys programmes, I tried all over the place to find the specific set list and who the musicians are. The latter is impossible to find online. It was disappointing not to see a cast list/musician list stuck up in the foyer like some performances, but I don’t know whether this is part of the secretive nature of the show. Their website doesn’t give much away. But someone attending obviously attended and updated Setlist website with the show’s setlist, which you can see below.

The music was really something.  With 12 musicians on set – strings, brass and wind, and percussion they started with a classic piece moving into the first rock instrumental. At first I thought the people around me were stomping in their seats, but then realised it was the bass thumping.

With the electronics the violins sounded like guitars in rock and metal bands, it was really impressive.

While some tracks were instrumental, showcasing individual musician solos in places, most brought on singer Erin Fox. With Scott Murphy appearing for duet Nothing Else Matters, and a couple of other songs including Motorhead’s Ace of Spades.

Erin played the eerie gothic role perfectly. You could tell she loved singing these songs, whether traditionally a male vocal or not. She reminded me a bit of Paloma Faith – definitely a role I could see her singing!  

My favourites were Nothing Else Matters, Numb (one that I bet N would have loved to hear), Don’t Speak, and another favourite at home, Sweet Child of Mine. It was great to hear the Cranberries Zombie cover. And Evanescance’s Bring me to Life really brought out the most of the orchestra.  

After the interval we were treated to their version of Holst’s Mars from The Planets suite. It was such was a treat with the electronics and setting. I’d have liked to have heard another rocked up classical piece – maybe in place of one of the final 2 tracks which I didn’t know. They were a bit too heavy metal for me.

I loved watching the percussionist – it made me laugh to see and hear the glockenspiel and tambourine being used in rock music.

They left the stage before the end time arrived, but came back on. The encore is obviously planned as part of the show. This is when you get introduced to the musicians, but it’s hard to hear due to the distortion of the sound.

It was a great show and performance by everyone involved with the Rock Orchestra by Candlelight show.  If you enjoy seeing brilliant musicians, but want to see something a bit different, then this is worth a look if it’s touring near you this year. Stay away if strobe lights aren’t your friend, and if you don’t like loud music. Some venues get you up dancing. But I’m glad the Milton Keynes audience was more restrained, then you can still see everything!).

Set list for Milton Keynes show

1st half

  • Thunderstruck (AC/DC cover)
  • Last Resort (Papa Roach cover)
  • Numb (Linkin Park cover)
  • Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover)
  • Sweet Child o’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses cover)
  • Dream On (Aerosmith cover)
  • Zombie (The Cranberries cover)
  • My Favourite Game (The Cardigans cover)
  • Toxicity (System of a Down cover)

2nd half

  • Welcome to the Black Parade (My Chemical Romance cover)
  • Back in Black (AC/DC cover)
  • Don’t Speak (No Doubt cover)
  • Bring Me to Life (Evanescence cover)
  • Tainted Love (Soft Cell cover)
  • Ace of Spades(Motörhead cover)
  • Chop Suey! (System of a Down cover)
  • Killing in the Name (Rage Against the Machine cover)


  • Enter Sandman (Metallica cover)

Rock Orchestra will be back touring the UK in the autumn so keep a watch out on social media for their ads.

Have you been to see Rock Orchestra by Candlelight? What would be the song you’d want to hear?

Love it? Share it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. My daughter and I went to the MK concert. She absolutely loved it. I thought the musicianship was excellent although a couple of the tracks could well have been the same song for all I knew. The cover of Sweet Child if Mine was exceptional and the lead violinist was fantastic. My only mega complaint was the sound. It was ruined by having far too much bottom because of the floor toms and bass drum and the double bass being far too loud. By the end of the 2nd set the lead violin was drowned. Such a shame to spoil what would otherwise been a very entertaining evening through bad sound management.

    1. I agree in some places the base was a bit too much. Wasn’t too bad otherwise sound wise from where I was sitting. Well worth the ticket money though. Glad you and your daughter enjoyed it too.

  2. I love the sound of this, the candlelight shows are such a big thing at the moment. My eldest was thinking about going to see A Tribute to Queen one. It sounds like you had a fab time. x