15 November 2021 (gig)
21 November 2021
When an album is as contemplative and full of self-reflection as Self Esteem’s ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ you want it complemented by a live show that’s going to whisk you away to another world, time and place – if only for a moment. Well, I am very pleased to inform you that Self Esteem’s (aka Rebecca Taylor) live show does that and so much more, from the rooftops, with bells on.
The show kicks in with the same opening bars as the album, those belonging to ‘I’m Fine’, and from the moment you hear the very first electro-beat you just know you are in for a treat: the energy is palpable. As Self Esteem struts onstage as the bars to the intro stretch out, and the audience howl and barks like dogs (if you don’t know why, listen to the album, you won’t regret it!) you are taken on an hour-long reverie into a refreshing plunge pool of pop by an artist who has clearly further found herself in her latest outing: confidence without attitude, cool without being aloof.
All of this is only added to by the intimacy of the venue. Sub 89 is not the sort of space you tend to catch such a bold pop show but somehow the juxtaposition works and the tigerish jump suit, the piercing backing vocals and the rehearsed, but far from forced, choreography sit comfortably alongside the rather dingier, grittier edge offered by the surrounds.
Onto the set list, this is exactly what it should be: a headfirst romp through the recent release, flung out with abandonment as if to highlight the very nature of the album, that being to prioritise pleasure. To compliment this, the show dips back into some of the back catalogue with Rollout being a particular highlight. Each song’s closing is met with roars of joy and pleasure from the audience and Rebecca develops a repartee in response to the enthusiasm, bouncing off their shouts of ‘I love you,’ and ‘You’re my hero,’ with a self-deprecating grace which highlights that at it’s root this show is about connection – a theme that runs through the evening.
As we move into the final few songs a wild-card is played in that her recent 6Music air-time heavy single, ‘I Do This All The Time’ is not saved for the encore, but in fact makes an appearance about four songs from the end. The effect on the audience is instant. As soon as the first beat hits them they bristle and ready themselves for an emotional talk-along to this modern day anthem. Self Esteem leads the choir with the air of nonchalance that the song demands – it is a truly emotional few minutes in an already draining but fulfilling evening.
As final flourish, the ‘last number’ is announced with a knowing wink; all pretence of the band not returning to the stage afterwards is dispelled but the calls of ‘more’ and ‘bravo’ ring as loud anyway. The band return to the stage for a final two songs calling back to previous albums. Finally, it’s done, all over: the band leave the stage, the light come up and normal life nudges back into view but with just a little less confidence than it did over an hour ago. It’s been our pleasure to experience the gig and one feels that doing so in such close confines might not be possible in years to come – this girl is going places!