Put on a good quality string trio at a London classical music venue and there's one thing you can be sure about: the average age of the audience is going to be over 60. But then the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment weren't exactly playing by the usual rules. For this "mini Night Shift" concert, they sent three of their number, violinists Maggie Faultless and Matthew Truscott and cellist Robin Michael, to a pub a few yards away from the OAE's offices at King's Place, charged with playing the music of Purcell and others to new audiences in a different environments.

© Joe Plommer
© Joe Plommer

A pub, of course, is an environment with which Purcell was thoroughly familiar: Truscott told us the story that he probably died as a result of a cold caught when his wife locked him out of the house after a particularly late drinking session.

The OAE certainly pulled in the audience. The Star of Kings was packed rigid with an average age somewhere between a half and a third of what you'd see at the Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall et al. The concert was run like a rock or folk gig, with an MC (the BBC's Proms blogger Jon Jacob, looking thoroughly uncomfortable with a microphone) engaging in banter with the muscians in the gaps between numbers. All four tried terribly hard to be hip and upbeat (there was a running gag about not mentioning boring things like opus numbers and keys) and while classical musicians are perhaps not naturals at this sort of thing, it all worked well enough: the atmosphere was as fun and lively as you might have wished. The pub management did their bit by failing to turn on the aircon for the first half, which got seriously hot and sweaty, and the players seemed bemused but happy to negotiate the heckling of "tell us the key" and the ironic cheers for the answer "B minor."

Not that the music needed much help. Faultless and Truscott are accomplished violinists and Michael a thoroughly competent cellist, and hearing performers of that calibre at six paces is a pretty magical experience. As to the music played, I'm going with my prejudices. The Handel and Corelli pieces were pretty enough, the Vivaldi a virtuoso piece executed with alacrity. More engaging, to my ears, were the lovely prelude from the Bach C major cello suite and part of the largo from his C major violin sonata. But the winners by a stretch were the two Purcell works, which attracted huge cheers and whoops from the audience. There's something quite unique about Purcell's weaving of multiple melodies, and the posthumous G minor sonata played in the second half transported me blissfully to another world. I'd have happily listened to Purcell for the whole evening - and I was disappointed that the programme didn't include some of the catches and drinking songs, the "wretched ribaldry" referred to on the OAE's blog.

The OAE promised to do some of these on their proposed tour of London pubs, for which they're currently trying to raise money with a "crowd funding" scheme. I warmly wish them well: this was a great night out and a great way of getting younger people to listen to live music. To steal a phrase from the friend who told me about this event: "Purcell in a pub - four words that define my idea of heaven."