A Chester landlord is hosting a musical event to commemorate the centenary of The Battle of Passchendaele in which hundreds of thousands of British and German soldiers died.
Mike Mercer, whose First World War-themed Albion Inn captures the essence of the Great War period (1914-18), has organised a two night spectacular featuring mezzo-soprano Patricia Hammond accompanied by musician Matt Redman.
Mike describes it as ‘quite a coup’ to secure the talented duo who will perform ‘Songs of the Great War’.
The first night is sold out but there are still tickets for the evening of Friday, September 1, priced £30, which includes a three-course dinner with wine. Mike hopes a special Passchendaele Ale will be available on the night. The dress code is described as ‘black tie’ and formal.
Mike, 77, who is Chester’s longest serving landlord having started at The Albion in 1971, said: “It’s 2017 now and we are running out of time to commemorate the centenary. Passchendaele was such a big moment in the First World War and we just felt it was appropriate it should be commemorated in some form or other and that people should remember it.”
With fallen soldiers in his mind from both sides, Mike said ‘as many if not more’ died at Passchendaele as at the Battle of the Somme, with some as young as 15-years-old.
“A lot were just people who were anything from factory workers to accountants to lawyers and they didn’t know what was coming,” added Mike, who finds it difficult to comprehend the horrors of a war that saw people die not only from enemy bullets but drowning in the mud.
Despite the tragic backdrop, Canadian-born mezzo-soprano Patricia Hammond, who lives in London, promises an entertaining and uplifting evening.
She said: “We will be performing 100-year-old pop songs – not just songs about the war but songs those at war would have enjoyed, to take their minds off war. The 1910s were a very exciting time for popular music. The first recordings were starting to circulate and there was cross-pollination going on and a mishmash of styles, before everything had separated into distinctive genres.”
She said her accompanist Matt, who hails from South Yorkshire, will play piano, accordion, banjo, guitar, mandolin and bouzouki on the night.
Tickets are available from The Albion Inn in Park Street, Chester and can be reserved by calling 01244 340345.