Watch two strangers spontaneously improvise on a piano in St Pancras station…

Thursday night, 10 pm. King’s Cross St Pancras train station.

A bit chilly for a summer evening but it’s not too bad for London standards.

A blond-ish guy is playing Hallelujah on the brown piano.

An old man is sitting next to the piano, on the left. He’s singing. “And it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor four, the major lift…”

A woman is standing next to the old guy, carrying a plastic bag. She’s listening.

A young lady, backwards cap, big loose jacket, gets closer and closer to the piano. She’s also listening, shyly.

The piano guy finishes the Hallelujah cover, and kindly asks the young lady if she wants to play the piano.

She doesn’t need to get asked twice. She takes over the piano. The old man sitting on the chair next to her looks suspiciously.  As soon as she starts playing, he looks down and listens slowly, nodding to the music. He looks back at the piano to see who the hell is this young woman, playing old piano blues improvisations like a 70-year-old musician from the 50’s but with the panache of youth possessing her body.

She’s tall, completely in her world, the piano in line with her thoughts, she lets go.

Ray Charles would have sang to this.

A young man passes by, a guitar in a case on his back. He looks tired, had a long day.

He’s drawn by the sound of the piano. He’s staring attentively to the pianist, appreciative.

The blond guy who was playing Hallelujah earlier and who’s now sitting on the ramp, watching the girl, asks him:

“Hey, do you wanna join the lady on the guitar?”

The guitar man says: “No, I’ve been playing guitar all day, I’m tired.”

“Is that your job?”

The guitar man nods quietly. But he doesn’t go away. He’s captivated by the piano playing of the young lady, who’s still in her own world.

The blond guy asks a second time, twenty minutes later: “Do you want to join her on the piano?”

The guitar man moves, hesitant. He is tempted, we all know he wants to, he’s crumbling inside.

He approaches the lady and asks her:

“Do you want to improvise with me?”

Watch what happens next:

The two didn’t exchange three words.

Yet they both played piano like they’ve been playing together for ages. They played like they understood each other, silently, their hands moving, improvising, completing each other mutually.

Then the guitar man left as smoothly as he had appeared.

Just as you thought it couldn’t get better, the blond-ish guy jumps on the piano next to the girl and the result was unexpected. Watch below:


The guitar man turned out to be a musician and songwriter called James Riley, check his folky tunes here.

The girl turned out to be an 18-year-old musician from Paris, in London for three weeks to improve her English. Check her crazy energy on stage and putting a whole crowd on their feet in this live performance here:

The blond-ish guy is a piano lover, and decided to spend his day off next to a piano.

Young musicians, old guy, passers by and travelers would have never stopped, dared talking to each other if it wasn’t for the piano.

We would have been strangers rushing through the station, swearing at the slow walkers in front of us.

I left King’s Cross station having shared a unique experience with strangers, and having made new friends.

A Thursday night I’ll remember forever. Thanks to a piano.

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