Show of Hands have today released a single and video to mark the centenary of the first day of WW1’s Battle of the Somme which you can watch above.
BBC award-winning singer songwriter Steve Knightley and multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer are offering one of Knightley’s finest songs, The Gamekeeper as a download single, tying in with a day-long tribute in their home city of Exeter to the 19240 Allied servicemen lost on the opening day of one of the worst battles in history.
Full of visual imagery, it tells of a Devon man returning home to his life as a gamekeeper after fighting in France with the poignant parallel of “walking towards the waiting guns”. The song also features some of the West Country’s finest musicians including BBC award-winning duo Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, with some beautiful dobro work from Henry, as well as Jim Causley, Rex Preston and Geoff Lakeman.
The song was played early this morning at Northernhay Gardens, Exeter, following the official opening to the public of the extraordinary art installation by artist Rob Heard – Shrouds of the Somme.
The Somerset artist has painstakingly hand stitched calico shrouds onto 19240 12 inch figures representing every Allied soldier who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The gates of Northernhay Gardens opened to reveal the art work exactly 100 years to the minute from the time the whistle sounded for the British to go ‘over the top’ at 7.30am.
Steve Knightley, who has been closely involved in the unique project, serving on the committee, says: “It is extremely moving to cast your eyes on this incredible sight of shrouded figures next to Exeter’s war memorial, making that massive loss from just one day so real. This is the culmination of two years’ work for Rob but will hopefully make visitors think and remember for years to come. It is something you must see.”
Tonight, Show of Hands, and long-term collaborator Miranda Sykes, will perform a special centenary concert in Exeter Cathedral, joined by acting couples, Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton (Downton Abbey).
The concert commences at 7.30pm, tickets are available from Exeter Cathedral on 01392 285983 or via exeter-cathedral.cloudvenue.co.uk/Showofhands
Show of Hands celebrate 25 Years with Royal Albert Hall gig
In other Show of Hands news they will be celebrating their 25 years on the road with their fifth gig at The Albert Hall on Sunday 16th April 2017. Tickets will be available from the Albert Hall from 9am on 1st July.
Box office is 0207 589 8212 or www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/events/2017/show-of-hands