Simon Kelner: So, come on, come on, do the locomotion with me

Kelner's view

Share

Once in a while, something happens that restores your faith in humanity, or gives you an unexpected thrill, or leaves you with a semi-permanent smile on your face.

The 9.53pm Virgin Trains service from Stoke to London Euston was, on the face of it, an unpromising venue to have such a life-affirming encounter, but there we were, minding our own business, unscrewing the odd bottle of buffet wine, when something extraordinary happened. A five-piece band suddenly emerged in the aisle next to us and struck up the Louis Prima classic "Buona Sera Signorina". Magical was the only word for it. They were on their way back from a gig in Manchester and, so in love were they with the music, or maybe the smooth ride of the Pendolino train, or life itself, that they just couldn't stop playing. In fact, "intoxicating" was another word for it, given how powerful seemed their desire to use music to make people happy, even in the most unlikely situations. Through a repertoire that included the Beach Boys, Queen and Katy Perry, they harmonised their way through Milton Keynes Central and Watford, turning the whole of carriage C into a karaoke-ing, foot-tapping, clapping throng. They turned out to be called the London Essentials, effectively a busking supergroup, or a pop-up band, if you like, who mainly play at private parties – they'd just been hired as the turn for the launch of a new Mary Portas outlet, so they're not proud – but further investigation revealed that they also like ad hoc gigs in the streets of Soho, once stopping the traffic in Frith Street.

It helps, of course, when you're an acoustic band and travel light. "No volume issues, no travelling restrictions," proclaims the band's website. "No social barriers between band and audience" - we can vouch for that, given that some of them were virtually sitting on the laps of our female colleagues for a couple of numbers - "providing an exclusive, bohemian, humorous and mystifying experience for any event". But what made this such an uplifting experience was not just the unexpected treat but the sense that we were all, passengers and band, breaking the rules. At any time, we thought we would be told off by the guard and instructed to desist, or the train would be boarded by British Transport Police to inform us that we were breaking various by-laws relating to the performance of live music in a travelling conveyance. But no. Quite the opposite, the lady in charge of the refreshment bar – or Betty Buffet as she came to be known – was such an enthusiastic participant in the whole crazy scene that she allowed us to broadcast the performance to the rest of the passengers through the public address. I don't know what anyone else thought of it, but it must have made a welcome change from the constant announcements about hot and cold drinks and the instructions to take your belongings with you. Not to mention the usual soundtrack to an inter-city journey: "I'm on the train..."

Have a tuneful weekend.

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: Sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital