Review: Music On Rails – ‘Why hasn’t this happened before?’

11 Sep 2014 @ 9.35 pm
| News

Would a new music festival at the NRM be a first class experience? Steve Cowell climbed aboard to find out…

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Beth McCarthy and Teddy. Photographs & videos © Steve Cowell. Click to see a bigger image

  Music On Rails
  National Railway Museum, Saturday, September 6

He may have been the inspiration for Rev Audrey’s Percy in the Thomas The Tank Engine stories, but on Saturday Teddy the steam locomotive was the workhorse driving the Director’s Saloon at Music On Rails.

The saloon spent the day making short trips to and fro on the line out of the NRM.

For half an hour at a time Teddy, believed to be the smallest working standard gauge steam engine in the UK, travelled back and forth as a captive audience watched an array of acoustic talent perform in the corner of the carriage.

The day’s event started rolling at 2pm, when York’s Beth McCarthy boarded the train and delighted the small audience with a range of songs, both covers and self-penned numbers.

She is a natural performer, who interacted well with the happy throng. It is no surprise that she did so well in The Voice earlier this year.

The moving venue added a charming quirkiness to the day’s events. The only downside being that, due to its limited capacity, the trips were ticketed.

However, the accommodating staff were happy for people without tickets to join a standby queue – and, if a train wasn’t full before it was due to depart, people form the queue were allowed on up until the limit was reached.

I enjoyed the trip so much, that I popped back on to see According To Eve’s half hour mobile set a little later on in the afternoon. Eve and Tim gave a great performance, including an apt rendition of the Doobie Brothers’ Long Train Runnin’.

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Barcode Zebra, a young fan and Beth McCarthy on the move. Click to see a bigger image

Back in the Station Hall the main stage kicked into action at 3pm with some great blues rock from the Speakeasy Blues Band. To say the hall was not designed for such an event, the sound quality was really good.

The juxtaposition of lines of magnificent rail carriages, and engines from days gone by against the high volume, brightly lit stage added to the charm of the event.

There was a very mixed crowd – ranging from regular museum visitors who possibly had no idea that the event was happening, to music fans young and old. Everybody appeared to be enjoying the range of music on show.

Second to the stage were Barcode Zebra, though missing the familiar face of keyboard player – Charlie Daykin – who was out of the country, the rest of the band whipped up a storm on stage.

Afterwards Jess, the singer, told me how much she had enjoyed playing: “What a great place to play,” she said “Why hasn’t this happened before?”

Judging by the reaction of both the artists and the audience, the MOR festival should make a welcome return – perhaps being an annual event?

The train kept rolling – carrying acts that included David Ward Maclean and Boss Caine, and delighting those lucky enough to get on board.

The music played through to the end of the day, long after Teddy had been put to bed. As nightfall arrived, the museum-goers started to drift off and more music-followers arrived.

The bar trade picked up as the coffee bar’s declined. And the main stage continued to show of some major talent to the eager audience – including Mark Wynn, We Could Be Astronauts and Littlemores. The night’s festivities were brought to a close by Jonny & The Dunebugs.

An amazing event in an amazing venue.

Looking forward to the next one!