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Edinburgh Fringe: Rosie Wilby | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe: Rosie Wilby

Edinburgh Fringe: Rosie Wilby

The Nineties remembered with warmth and charm but precious few big laughs

Rosie Wilby (right): living it large in the Nineties

Rosie Wilby: How (Not) to Make it in Britpop, Bongo Club ***


In the 1990s Rosie Wilby was lurking on the outer edges of Britpop with her band Wilby, whose giddy career highlights included opening for Tony Hadley (he evacuated the entire room for the soundcheck), being clamped outside the venue while supporting Bob Geldof, and getting their own plastic name tag in the racks of Virgin Megastore.

Her band were rated “enjoyable” in a 2000 Guardian review – Wilby back-projects the proof in case we don't believe her – and the same adjective applies to this hour-long show. It’s a bit of a curate's egg, a spoken word, not-quite-stand-up affair in which she recounts her experiences fronting her band, interweaved with recollections of past members, former lovers, highs, lows (including an abrupt change of mood midway which feels slightly forced) and a handful of - good - songs which she performs on acoustic guitar.

The show is interactive in a very old school kind of way. Wilby uses a slideshow of photographs introducing us to the main players in her story, as well as reciting from old reviews and fan letters to create an atmosphere of rueful nostalgia and amused self-deprecation. It’s an amiable ramble through a period of her life that obviously still resonates, but it results in only occasional wry chuckles rather than big laughs. Potentially rich comic seams – hello Mr Hadley – are left untapped, while there is a distinct lack of rock 'n' roll misadventure or dramatic tension. There is also a rather awkward, unfunny piece of audience participation which she might do well to drop.

But Wilby is never less than an engaging presence, and the overall point (which, in Britpop parlance, can be summarised as "Don't Look Back in Anger") is conveyed with charm and warmth. On the day I saw the show she also worked hard to rise above the lack of bodies in the room. Yes, Wilby is enjoyable. But no more than that.

It’s an amiable ramble through a period of her life that obviously still resonates


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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