Darren John Poyzer

e-mail: darrenpoyzer@gmail.comTel 07866 507441Darren John Poyzer
Singer Songwriter / Special Education Tutor
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The War To End All Wars - Live Performance Review
courtesy of The Glossop Gazette

Darren Poyzer with Geoff Senior from the North West Film Archive"Poyzer manages to transmit his material with poignancy and great humility. His acoustic guitar playing is a delight; warmth and kindness shine throughout his performance.

The show is an interesting, educational and creative production ... schools and other institutions would benefit immensely from this presentation, but not exclusively. Everyone should go and see this show"

What causes humankind's thirst for conflict? Local music legend Darren Poyzer knows the answer: madness. As we approach the centenary of the Great War, this former Falklands serviceman explores the impact of war on modern society. His show brings together film archive footage, audio and music. Although a dark subject, Poyzer's delivery is thought provoking and, most of all, touching. Glossop Gazette attended last weekend's performance at the 1st Dinting Scout Centre in Glossop.

The show begins with a short 20-minute presentation of footage from the North West Film Archive. Introduced by 1st Dinting group scout leader, Geoff Senior - also Collections Assistant at the film archive - silent images in black and white begin with WW1 recruitment drives; we see the MP for Liverpool rallying his constituents, standing in the back of his fine jalopy; female faces appear but not again until the end of the film. With Elgar in the background, bayonnet and signalling training sessions flicker on the screen, then trench practice; the recruits are shown laughing and joking, playing team games and boxing; also, famous images of troops waving handkerchiefs from the train as they depart to the front, many never to return. The final shots record the 1924 inauguration of the cenotaph in Chorley, attended by the town's dignitaries and rows of children with their fathers' medals pinned to their coats. From the outset, the early footage clearly shows that North West townsfolk had little idea of what was to come. Indeed, word was spreading that it would "all be over by Christmas".

When Darren Poyzer was at school, a teacher told him he'd be better off getting a job at the rope factory, rather than aspire to any 'higher' vocation. Somewhat shy with a physical appearance which meant he enjoyed less success with girls than some of his other classmates, Poyzer was immediately attracted to a military career and finally joined up two years before the onset of the Falklands Conflict. Echoing the archive footage we'd seen in the first half, Poyzer's song 'Over The Moon' reflects the ominous cheer of WW1 recruits, excitedly departing for the front: something new; a feeling of belonging; comradeship - all three still firmly present when Poyzer set sail to the South Atlantic aboard HMS Broadsword.

'Gotcha!' read the headline in The Sun, the day of the sinking of the General Belgrano. For Poyzer, the reality of war was also beginning to sink in. HMS Broadsword was beside HMS Coventry when the latter was struck and sunk. Poyzer remembers satirical cartoons of the conflict and how he felt dehumanised, noting how military training manages to remove individual identity - a powerful subject tackled in his next song 'Cartoons In Wartime'.

As is hugely common among ex-servicemen, Poyzer became victim of depression. His sensitivity is greatly troubled by at once wanting to do the right thing yet failing to rationalise - as he saw it - the senseless slaughter. As in the Great War, divisions between men on the front lines and officers are clearly indicated. 'Firework Moon', written between Guy Fawkes Night and Remembrance Day is a plea to be forgiven for wanting to do the right thing and also a prayer to bring everyone home safe and sound.

The Falklands also saw fighting during WW1 with many sunken ships and countless casualties. Reflecting on his experience of conflict above these watery graves, Poyzer describes how the newest technology available in 1982 - Sea Dart and Exocet missiles - were fitted to the destroyer HMS Coventry, whilst the frigate Broadsword was equipped with close range Sea Hawk missiles. Yet these proved ineffective against more old-fashioned Argentinian strike planes which flew very low, skimming the ocean surface and therefore out of Coventry's sophisticated radar. Sea Dart missiles are not designed to prevent such an attack, having been created to shoot down high flying Russian bombers. The ship's electronic missile control system was unable to get a lock on either of the two pairs of low-flying Argentinian planes. With 90 seconds flight time between the bombers and two ships, HMS Broadsword simply didn't have enough time to react, especially as its computer system crashed at the very last minute. So much for new technology. It took twenty minutes for Coventry to capsize. More than 130 crew managed to board Broadsword; 19 others lost their lives.

Once again, Poyzer draws comparisons with WW1, although 16.5 million losses of the Great War overshadow the relatively small number of casualties in 1982. Audio clips are interspersed with Poyzer's original compositions, the next is a love song which reflects a longing to come back home. Poyzer knows he's lucky to have survived. Together with his partner, Trisha Plant, they recently visited WW1 battlegrounds and cemeteries - one with 22,000 foreign men in unmarked graves in a foreign country. According to Poyzer, the sight of so many unmarked graves brings home the ambivalence of the military's side of the story when compared to the actual realities of armed conflict.

'Sunday Morning Footballer' looks at the legendary comradeship of the football match between German and British soldiers on Christmas Day in 1915. As Poyzer approaches the end of his set, he allows the audience to check out at close hand his Falklands medal, described as 'a reward for violence - now worth about £20 on eBay'. The rehabilitation of veterans is another of Poyzer's important points. There is still very little support for survivors of combat and related stresses although WW1 veterans were even less fortunate. Poyzer discusses the impact of 9/11 and ensuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He closes his show with 'the first song of the rest of our lives' entitled 'Catch If You Can', written after the attack on the WTC Twin Towers and inspired by the image of the 'Falling Man' who chose to jump rather than be victim of the concrete and steel inferno. 

A sobering ending to a sobering evening, yet Poyzer manages to transmit his material with poignancy and great humility. His acoustic guitar playing is a delight; warmth and kindness shine throughout his performance. The show is an interesting, educational and creative production and, for its creator, certainly a therapeutic blessing in that he is able to convey his life-shattering experience of modern warfare by way of music, song and performance. Glossop Gazette would like to wish The War To End All Wars every success. Schools and other institutions would benefit immensely from this presentation, but not exclusively. Everyone should go and see this show.

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Review Link: http://glossopgazette.co.uk/latest-news/545-darren-poyzer-s-the-war-to-end-all-wars-reviewed

Performance Information:
Saturday November 16th 2013
Dinting Scout Headquarters, Glossop, Derbyshire