On Thursday 31st October The Royal British Legion held it’s annual London Poppy Day event. This is the largest one day street collection of its kind in Europe with the aim to raise over 1 million pounds! The day featured 10 military bands and their ensembles performing across London to commuters and travellers on train stations. I set out early from my hotel in London at 06:45 to make it over to Liverpool Street Station in time for the first band at 07:30. The newly formed British Army Band Colchester performed a varied selection of music conducted by their Director of Music Captain Simons. Their programme of music included a mix of marches,
popular songs, TV and film themes and the band’s lead trombonist had a great opportunity to solo at the end of a Beatles medley! Trumpets Wild, a jazzy arrangement of The Wild Horseman for trumpet trio brought three of the band’s Cornets to the front to perform the bluesy number. The Colchester Band were the only band to wear their summer uniform, as all other bands wore their Athol Gray Coats.
Next was King’s Cross Station by tube to watch the impressive Queen’s Colour Squadron perform a Continuity Drill Display in front of a large poppy that had been mounted in the station’s concourse. Although no military band, the marches of Eagle Squadron and Battle of Britain were projected through speakers around the station. As the relatively cold morning turned warmer, I walked down Euston Road to enjoy the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas, who were joined by The Pipes and Drums of the Queen’s Own Royal Gurkha Logistic Regiment at Marylebone Station for the first part of the lunchtime performance period. The band opened with Thriller conducted by their Director of Music, which was fitting for Halloween, then performed Highland Cathedral and Mist Covered Mountains with the Pipes and Drums. The two bands produced a phenomenal sound that filled the station; the band were also joined by two musicians from The Band of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
After a two minute ride on the Bakerloo line to Paddington Station during the lunchtime
performances I made it in time to watch the rest of the British Army Band Tidworth’s set, conducted by their Bandmaster Staff Sargent Lindley. The band, now a Brass Band, performed a really entertaining selection of music for the lunchtime crowd including Life on Mars, Don’t Stop Me Now, Mr Blue Sky, Abba Gold, MacArthur Park, The William Tell Overture and an unusual arrangement of Video Killed the Radio Star which was brought to life by the Glockenspiel that they had brought with them!
My final stop of the day for the evening rush hour was Waterloo Station to watch The Band of the Grenadier Guards, although nearly missing the start due to the Taxi Driver having to take a detour through Lambeth due to a spontaneous Brexit protest outside Downing Street, I made it just in
time. Conducted by Major Mike Smith, the band performed marches, pop tunes, jazz standards and songs from musicals including a very good Alto Saxophone feature of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables. Later on during the performance the same saxophonist returned to serenade us with the ever popular Baker Street. An upbeat performance of Caravan, featured soloists from the band’s principal trombonist and cornet player before the band finished with The Royal British Legion March and The British Grenadiers.
It was a very enjoyable and worthwhile day travelling around London watching all the bands and I hope you have enjoyed reading my personal experiences of the day!
You can view a full photo gallery of over 40 photos of all the bands performing and full videos of all the band's performances on my YouTube channel, Military Bands Everywhere!