Flashmob – Birmingham taken by surprise

LCpl Daniel King

LCpl Daniel King

Lance Corporal Daniel King is in the Corps of Army Music and is currently assigned to the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals. Here he writes about being part of one of the latest crazes to hit the streets – Flashmobs.

When I saw my parents last weekend I told them that I had just taken part in a “flashmob” in the centre of Birmingham. My Mum’s response was “Did they catch you this time?”. I quickly corrected her and explained that it wasn’t what it sounded like but instead a public show that is designed to be spontaneous and a surprise to passers-by.

On Saturday 21 September the Corps of Army Music gave it a go, and what a success it has proven to be.  Three bands, consisting of one regular including my band, the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals (Corps of Army Music) and two reserve bands; The Nottinghamshire Band of the Royal Engineers and the Band of The Mercian Regiment descended on Chamberlain Square in Birmingham.

For us the flashmob started on the Friday with a trip from Blandford in Dorset to RAF Cosford in the Midlands.  What would normally be a nice easy three or four-hour journey turned into a delightful seven-hour trip due to traffic on the M5. We should have arrived at Cosford for our evening meal but due to the delay missed our opportunity to eat in the facilities at the camp.

Due to my reputation of being a food lover, I was nominated to find somewhere to eat. Of course I chose curry, and according to my phone this was going to be a 1.1-mile walk from camp. This goes to prove that phones lie… 50 minutes later we had arrived at Albrighton Balti Bazaar for our evening meal. The band must have trebled the restaurant’s business for the evening!

Out of sight

The following morning the two Reserve bands arrived and the bands started to put together what was going to happen. Due to the nature of the job it is very hard to do this as you have little idea about what it is going to be like on the ground. Plan A was put in place and after a couple of hours’ rehearsal, we had lunch and got on the bus to Birmingham.

WO1 Estelle Gouws - Bandmaster of the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals

WO1 Estelle Gouws – Bandmaster of the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals

When we arrived in Birmingham, section leaders of each band went out with the Band Sergeant-Major to have a look at the area we would be performing in. This is where Plan B, C, and D were formed! The initial plan was to have the Signals band on the steps behind the fountain and the TA bands in front. Due to the size of the fountain it was decided that this would not be ideal so everyone was to form in front. We also decided to change where we would form up for the marching band part of our plan at the end of the event.

As the band hid in different corners of the square out of sight of the crowd, our performance was started by our percussionist, Musician Wayne Harvey. Dressed in overalls he wheeled a big green bin out into the middle of the square and started playing the drum rhythm to our chosen tune of Louis Prima’s “Sing Sing Sing”, which as I write already has over 5500 hits on YouTube.  He was soon joined little by little by members of the Signals Band. At the drum solo in the middle of the piece the band were joined by members of the two Reserve bands making a total of 60 Army Musicians, an impressive sound and sight. By the end of the piece the massed bands had formed into a marching band formation to finish.

Appear from nowhere

After the surprise flashmob the bands then gave a 20-minute impromptu concert before departing the square to a piece of music called Saint Louis Blues.

The crowd appeared to love the whole event and many looked genuinely surprised to suddenly see a band in uniform appearing from nowhere to entertain them. This was a fantastic event to be involved with and seeing the online success and telling my family and friends about this is great. I hope I can be involved in similar events in the future.

CAMUS flashmob

CAMUS flashmob

CAMUS flashmob

CAMUS flashmob

CAMUS flashmob

CAMUS flashmob

Watch the action unfold in this video of the event:

Visit The Corps of Army Music and learn about its role within the British Army

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