MOR Music on Rails

An intriguing proposition, the inaugural MOR Music on Rails brought live music to the National Railway Museum. Some of York’s finest talent played across two unique spaces: The Station Hall, an expansive warehouse full of trains, and The Director’s Saloon, a fully operational steam train which chugged back and forth along the rails while those who played on it tested their mettle by entertaining an intimate audience and keeping their balance during the stops.


Kicking things off in the Director’s Saloon was Beth McCarthy. 17-year-old Beth is a prodigious talent and she proved it with her original material Little Baby and Mr Cliché, written when she was 14 and 15 respectively. Beth sang with a big, lilting Americana voice and a constant smile on her face. If this wasn’t endearing enough, she threw in some impressive covers of KT Tunstall, Lorde, and an amusing country version of LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know it, made famous during her blind audition on the BBC’s ‘The Voice.’

Meanwhile in the Station Hall the Speakeasy Blues Band were filling the expansive space with some lively blues rockabilly. The four veteran rockers treated the early comers to steady bass lines and long organ and guitar solos.

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Speakeasy Blues Band

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Beth McCarthy


Following  them were one of the festival highlightsBarcode Zebra. Down one member, they were playing a s a funky three piece, headed up by the powerful voice of front-woman  Jess Gardham. More accustomed to touring the UK and Europe, Barcode Zebra returned to York and brought with them some disco beats  and slow funk, typified by their cover of Gotye’s Somebody I Used to Know.


A second trip on a now humid and steamy steam train introduced According to Eve. A duo of vocals and acoustic guitar, they treated the intimate carriage to a range of cover versions including Bob Marley, Madness, Bill Withers and The Beatles. They were at their best, however, when performing their original material Everybody Says and Watching Stars, the latter being a  slow melancholic tune which exemplified singer Eve Maule-Cole’s sultry, soft, soulful voice.

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Van Der Neer

As the evening set in, things got decidedly heavier, starting with the in your face power trio Van Der Neer, playing energetic old school driving rock riffs, full of build-ups and big finishes.


Then, with barely a pause for breath, the flamboyant and anarchic Berlin Black took to the stage. Dressed up to the nines and bringing something a bit different to the festival, the four piece played humorous and  dynamic party rock, with Chris Tuke’s Brian Molko-esque vocals ever present.

As the evening climaxed, the relentless rock of covers artistsFUNKtion and the ample-haired We Could Be Astronauts steamed through swaggering sets . It was then that an exhausted York Calling had to bow out.

A fantastically entertaining day all round, here’s hoping that Music on Rails becomes an annual tradition. It’s safe to say that this  experiment of music and trains has proved a success.


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A young fan

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Berlin Black


MOR Music on Rails took place at The National Railway Museum on Saturday 6 September 2014