A pop prophet in her ascendancy.
Months prior to Self Esteem’s Barrowlands debut, a friend told me to get to her show as soon as humanly possible, likening the performance to a religious experience. By the close of the main set, the triumphant and soul-baring song I Do This All the Time, it’s impossible to be left with any ambiguity that this claim is warranted.
The show’s title, “I Tour This All the Time”, might infer a sense of painting by numbers, automatic setlist beats, of a going through the motions, but Rebecca Lucy Taylor a.k.a Self Esteem will have you believe that these songs are being performed for the first time, that they’re being written on the spot. Her vocals are visceral, and her intention of resetting the perspective and importance of self-love to give yourself space to just be, rather than fulfilling the expectations life sets you, are ever-present. That commitment is palpable as Taylor performs the entire second half with a lipstick smear across her face, applied during a blood red run that includes not 1 or 2, but 3 new songs: the house-infused Mother suggests a more electronic and maximalist 3rd studio album, but then gives way to a costume change and the acoustic Love Second; played to a silent and stunned audience, as Taylor stands alone on stage, the attention of the room held in expert suspense.
Her backing vocalists-cum-dancers are a harmonic talent in-and-of themselves; they and the keyboardist/drummer 2-piece band care as much about this performance as their frontwoman. Taylor makes the Barrowlands feel like Hampden. “Indie bands always tell me ‘you have to play Barrowlands’”, Taylor muses, but few bands can transcend the space like Self Esteem’s set does. By the end of the encore, where Self Esteem responds to the audible sadness of her announcing her last song with a laugh and a claim that she’s “fucking fucked”, you understand why: all has been given by the 6 individuals on stage to demonstrate an upward curve of ascendancy in one of British Pop’s most important and talented voices.