I am walking along the road towards Towersey. “It’s like going to see The Jam without Weller,” says Russ.
“One Direction without Harry,” I offer. “Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band without Bruce Springsteen,” says Steve, trumping all of us. Because he is the Boss.
We walk in silence for a bit, gradually joining a steady stream of eccentrically dressed people. The level of tie dye is rising by the metre, so we know we are heading in the right direction for Towersey Festival, and our entertainment for this evening, The South.
Born from the Ashes of The Beautiful South, The South feature Dave Hemingway, one of the main voices of the band, and Alison Wheeler plus most of the last line up of the seminal band who chalked up close to two dozen hits from the 90s onwards.
But they don’t have THE voice. They are without Paul Heaton, now pursuing a solo career. I believe this paper reported him dead the other week, which makes me wonder exactly who it was I was speaking to the other week for a Paul Heaton interview for my proper job. But I digress.
As we approach the entrance and see the £17 entrance fee Russ says “We could just go to the pub in the village.
“I could sing the songs, it would be the same thing,” I offer.
“No. We are going in,” says Steve, all but grabbing us by the scruff of the neck and marching us in.
We queue for tokens. Then we queue for beer, paying with our tokens. The man in front has waited 20 minutes for his beer and not done the token queue thing. He is an angry man. I am a trying-not-to-smirk man.
Fortified with frothy ale and a whole pocket full of tokens we enter the music tent just in time to see the South bound on stage. They play a couple of hits. They are excellent. And they are so cool that they don’t even need to take their coats off. Hemingway is even cooler: he keeps his coat AND hat on while belting out chart single after chart single.
He may not be a natural showman, he is a little too earnest, but Hemingway sings well and the band are as expected; just shy of Beautiful.
They play for an hour and a half, with two proper encores.
The highlight for me is seeing the middle aged ladies around me bellowing out the rude word in “Don’t marry her…,” with the children in the audience almost snapping their necks as they turn in delight to see their parent cuss.
As we shuffle into the night, all our beer tokens mysteriously used up, we have been wonderfully entertained and the festival is off to a flying start. A Beautiful beginning to a festival that belongs to the beautiful.