There’s something very satisfying about the idea of an international train station being used as a platform (did you enjoy that pun as much as I did?) for emerging musical talent. The poetry of train stations, with their potential for adventure and romance, has always inspired writers and artists. When St Pancras was under threat in the 1960’s, it was the poet laureate John Betjeman who fought to save the neo-Gothic station buildings from being destroyed. His poetry is now set into paving stones on the upper concourse, around Martin Jennings’s bronze statue of the man himself, clutching his hat as he looks up in wonder at the high roof of the station he loved so much.
The concept behind the Station Sessions is built upon St Pancras’s long standing connection with innovation and the arts. Performing in scheduled half an hour evening slots throughout the year, passengers are treated to free music as they wait for their trains.
Sam Kidby and Gideon Chain, the brains behind the Station Sessions, have tapped into the growing trend for live music in unusual places. The Black Cab Sessions is another recent phenomenon on the music scene, with artists filming unique acoustic versions of their songs during a taxi ride and sharing the results on YouTube. (I want to share a taxi with Death Cab For Cutie!)
“We’re trying to bring romance back to the railway,” Kidby explains. “We try to keep the music uplifting, and we’ve had every genre play, from jazz and classical to hip-hop, pop and indie. The music makes people stop and look around instead of just seeing this as a functional space.”
“The artists we choose to play are the hidden gems that are about to take off. These are the musicians to watch,” says Chain.