IT is one of the UK’s busiest railway terminals, a building of huge historic importance and home to a much loved barrier-less footbridge.
Now Sheffield Train Station is to get a new claim to fame: today it will become the first transport hub in the world to stage a ‘silent concert’.
City musician Michael Eden and his backing band are to play a 40-minute gig there – with the music being channelled to commuters through freely-provided earphones.
“We’re hoping people in the rush-hour will pick up the headsets and listen while waiting for their trains,” says the 40-year-old ambient crooner. “Who knows? Maybe some will enjoy themselves so much they decide to catch a later train.”
If it sounds like an interesting proposition, it is also an unusual one.
The show – staged as part of the Sensoria festival of music and film currently taking place across Sheffield – is being advertised as the world’s first ever silent gig.
“Well...” says Michael, “that perhaps needs qualifying slightly.”
“Mainly, because, strictly speaking, it’s not the world’s first silent gig,” he admits. “Other bands have done headphones-only gigs – the Fun Lovin Criminals did one in Camden – but this will be the first, as far as we understand, at a transport station.”
Here’s the technical bit, then.
The band – Michael on guitars and vocals supported by Sheffield musicians Bryan Day (guitar), Jon Trier (keys), Max Munday (bass), Paul Blakeman (drums) and Jonny Dean (backing vox) – will set up by the station’s taxi rank at 5.30pm.
Sensoria delegates will circle the station offering wireless earphones tuned to pick up the sound.
It means, while headset-wearers will be able to stand anywhere in the station and listen, those without them will hear nothing unless they are near the band.
They will perform a second silent show on The Moor on Saturday from 4.15pm. The band will play in a shop window with shoppers encouraged to watch from the street.
“The thing about train stations,” says Michael, a designer and professional musician of Meersbrook Avenue, Meersbrook, “is they’re romantic places, transient, you meet loved ones there and break up. I think music is suited to that.”
And it’s not just train stations either. If you have headphones surely you could play concerts anywhere?
“Absolutely,” says Michael, who releases his second album Doors in May. “The main reason you can’t have a concert in most places is because of the obvious thing – the sound.
“If you take that away with headphones you can play anywhere. On a mountain, in an aeroplane. I’d be up for anything.
“But for now we’re really excited about this.”
As well they should be. After all, it’s not often you get to be, sort of, the first in the world to do something.
More details can be found at www.michaeleden.com
Potential venues for more silent gigs...
A place for research, reading – and rocking? Why not? Use the headphones and a silent but money-generating gig would not disturb the centre’s more scholarly users.
How much lovelier would our main thoroughfare be if you didn’t have to hear that bloke busking Wonderwall? Make him make it a silent show.
Steps? Olly Murs? Katy Perry? For parents having to endure such pop pap, perhaps headsets could pipe in a smaller performance being played round the back.