Rosie Wilby - How (Not) To Make It In Britpop

How much do you know about obscure mid 90s Britpop band Wilby? Not much? Evidently anyone with a real niche interest in obscure Britpop bands should make it their business to find out more and it is providing this niche need that Rosie Wilby bases her part story-telling, part stand-up biopic of her former life as a Britpop songstress.

Wilby was an unassuming host, shuffling onstage at the start of the set, and this carried into her show. Whilst her slideshow and her discussion were interesting and often endearing, her jokes sometimes fell a little flat, veering towards middle-of-the-road topics such as the Olympics. In this sense, she was perhaps hampered by the rigorous confines of the story-telling effort but her general act was inconspicuous: it was telling that when Wilby seized two audience members to come onstage and play a couple at a wedding that she had sung at, they appeared to have as much stage presence as she did.

Indeed, it was interesting that she at one point described her past as ‘unsuccessful singer-songwriter, now moderately successful comedian’. This strange line was proved stranger as the best parts of her set were when she downed the mic and took up the guitar to play a selection of her songs, which were delicate and rich efforts accompanying her throaty and soaring voice.

Much of the rest of her set comprised of her flicking through an occasionally rather self-indulgent slideshow of her past as lead singer of her eponymous band. While there are plenty of cultural touchstones, such as mentions of Menswear (met bizarrely with resounding cheers), the Verve and awful patterned trousers, it is when she stops speaking and begins singing that her show really escalates: in the finale Wilby muses on her struggles in life so far and how she has overcome them before singing a touching rendition of ‘the last song she ever wrote.’ If anything it had wondering why she didn’t make it in Britpop more than whether she will make it in stand-up.

Reviews by James Dolton

Jake Morrell

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The Blurb

Musician turned award-winning comedian, and Radio 4 regular, recalls her years chasing stardom in the 1990s through old photos, letters and diaries. 'A delicate endearing delight' **** (

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