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Show of Hands: Centenary Words & Music of the Great War review

(Mighty Village)

Music and poetry can be a powerful combination. The Show of Hands singer-songwriter Steve Knightley and the actor Jim Carter have known each other since the 80s, and are now joined by Carter's wife, the actress Imelda Staunton, for an emotional concept set, marking the start of the first world war. The first album includes angry and bitter poetry by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, the black trench humour of Edgell Rickword and the pained, poignant I Have a Rendezvous With Death, written by Pete Seeger's uncle, Alan Seeger an American volunteer who indeed died in the fighting along with the patriotic poems of Jessie Pope, who encouraged men to enlist. All are matched against subtle, atmospheric musical backing, making use of songs from the era. A second album includes new Knightley songs and a beatbox harmonica treatment of It's a Long Way to Tipperary.

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