Never have I seen a longer queue for the men’s loos than the ladies. I’m at Shipwright’s Yard for the Republic of Music’s Alternative Escape Sessions 2019. We’re late to the set which has already seen the likes of Wives and BABii play. It’s clearly been a beery afternoon.
We arrive just as Sleeper are closing and catch the last thirty seconds of Sale of the Century. It all comes flooding back, the anthems, the nineties, I am caught in a warm nostalgia. We sing what we remember in the queue: “And it feels like we just got start-ed/ It’s still you!/ Taking me under…” The 90s vibe continues inside, the courtyard’s full of grown up ndie kids. Dads, let off for the afternoon, mill about in Eels t-shirts. Louise Wener idles in a doorway, reclaiming her status as the Britpop poster girl she always was.
Of course, we’re really here for Tim Burgess ex-lead singer of The Charlatans, headlining act and defining sound of an indie-rock era. Before that, there’s unlikely support from a young band called Average Sex (“I’m here for average sex”) brilliant. There have been so many memorably funny band names in The Great Escape this year. Average Sex turn out to be quite good, a five-piece from London. Laetitia Bocquet the French singer is wearing a Marilyn Manson t-shirt, which is confusing because they have a very indie-pop sound.
Tim Burgess is clearly a fan, bouncing on stage in his dungarees and bowl cut bleached hair. He’s fun to watch and everyone’s dancing. Even the residents in the house overlooking the courtyard are out with their picnic glasses on the balcony. At one point, Tim seems to be reading from a lyric sheet and I wonder if he’s forgotten the words. He pulls off a version of North Country Boy, though it sounds different and a few people in the crowd are clearly straining to remember.
In a surprising turn of events, Laetitia gets back up on stage for a duet with Tim Burgess. The crowd are trying to work out what’s going on as she sings harmonies on the mic behind the frontman. I later discover Average Sex are signed to Burgess’ record label O Genesis and have supported him on tour. It’s an afternoon well spent, a flashback to my university years when the band were at their peak. And judging by the crowd, I am not alone in feeling that.