Dan Hough

Busking Report – Leicester Square (Pitch 1)

Published 07 April 2018 in London, UK (~3min read)

Saturday’s session at Leicester Square was very eventful! But let’s start as usual with some numbers.

Today the lovely folks spending time in Leicester Square on a Saturday afternoon were kind enough to give me £12.59, mostly in the form of 25x 2p coins - although closely followed by 23x of 20p and £1 coins. So, £19.53 for me and £19.53 for Crisis.

I was there for two hours, which makes my hourly salary also £19.53, which is the 7th-best hourly rate I’ve ever earned busking. Pretty good!

Leicester Square Pitch 1 is the one near that you can find at the bottom of the Piccadilly Line escalator. It’s a great spot: good acoustics, lots of foot traffic and there’s plenty of room to stand.

Some notable moments

The film crew

I was contacted a few weeks ago by Adelaide, a student in Birmingham, and her friend Pablo. They’re running a small non-profit record label called Anonymous Sound. Their first project, Anonymous London, is all about capturing buskers in the act on video, wherever they do their thing, and then recording some of their favourite covers in a studio. More about this later when the project is further down the line.

All you need to know right now, dear reader, is that today they were filming me! What effect does this have on my performance, you ask?

A positive one! Having a video camera with a proper decent microphone attached to it pointed at you is extremely motivating, even when you’re tired and a little hungover, in making sure you hit and hold all the right notes, making sure you remember the chords, and generally improving the energy.

The pitch
The pitch

Adelaide and Pablo filmed me twice, once at the beginning and once at the end. I’ll share the footage as soon as I can.

The Croatian school trip

Towards the end, I was playing a crowd-pleaser, The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars, and I was approaching the first chorus when, from the escalators to the right, a group of teenagers showed up. They were talking to each other and looking over me, and just as I began to sing “I said it ‘cause I can!” a chorus of voices in perfect sync and harmony began to sing along with me!

They were incredible! As they sang along to the chorus, more of them joined and soon there were about 30 of them in a semi-circle around me and we belted out our best Bruno Mars together. So much fun!

The other busker

I arrived a little early at the spot, and was greeted by the sound of Akari’s banjo! Follow her on Instagram and if you ever get a opportunity to see her play, take it! She’s great!

The first tip

The first tip was from my first song, which was my very own Bored Bored Bored!

A friendly man came along and started telling me that he’s glad I wasn’t playing any of “that electronic DJ music”. He told me about the days before the busking license scheme came in under Greater London’s first mayor. He said that the license scheme was terrible because it got rid of all the “proper buskers”. I can’t say I agree that the license scheme is terrible - but I guess I wasn’t there before it came in so I can’t say with certainty. Nonetheless, he was complimentary about my music and friendly, and he gave me £3 so that was nice. Someone else gave me £1, so £4 for some original music! Score!

The view from the pitch
The view from the pitch

The best performance

Easily the best was the aforementioned rendition of The Lazy Song, which was dramatically improved by my backing singers.

How to improve

Honestly, if I can be as good as my in-front-of-camera self every time then I think I’d do super great. But alas, it isn’t as simple as that.

Just like last time though, a little more practice of Ironic would be good because it should be a real money-maker!

Heckle me on Twitter @basicallydan.