Review & Photos: G. Rossington.
Hot on the heels of last years’ Mercury Prize Finalist announcement, a string of high-priority festival slots and multiple sold-out tours in support of her second solo record ‘Prioritise Pleasure’. Not to mention the multiple awards and critical acclaim for the soundtrack to ‘Prima Facie’, tonight, Self Esteem (aka: Rebecca Lucy Taylor) headlines the Bristol night of her current ‘I Tour This All The Time’ UK Tour.
Tonight’s show at The Marble Factory has been Sold Out for months and was one of the first on the 21 date opus to reach the status. For the early arrivals, we are treated to a short and sweet set from Tom Rasmussen. His set is a delight and features a mix of joyous, camp tunes mixed with his delightful interpretive dance. He goes down an absolute storm amongst the early entrants. ‘Joy’, ‘This Is How We Walk On The Moon’ and ‘Street Violence’ show a characteristic depth to his writing. Even an interlude narrated (over the P.A.) by Shon Faye whilst he changes in to a flowing tennis skirt for his encore is a nice twist for an opening act. ‘Look At Me’ and ‘Dysphoria’ become his “encore” and close his set to a huge cheer from the capacity crowd.
The second support comes from Denise Chaila. The part Zambian and part Irish rapper arrives to the stage and immediately makes it her own. She has a core fanbase already in the front rows as they rap and sing along with her every word. ‘Might Be’ and ‘Return of The King’ forge the Irish grime scene forward to the 2020’s and ‘Anseo’ signals a massive call and response section of the show. Her in between song banter is fantastic also, she comes across as warm, compassionate and genuinely funny. ‘CHAILA’ is brilliant and her set closes with ‘061’ an ode to her local area telephone code.
With 1600 people waiting to erupt as the lights go down, Sophie Galpin (backing vocals, keyboards and bass) and Mike Park (drums) lead the way followed by the trilogy of backing singers/dancers in the form of: Marged Sion, Levi Heaton & Seraphina Simone. Their places are taken under cover of darkness, followed moments later by a light protruding from the back of the stage leaving the viewer with silhouetted shapes.
Having been on tour with ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ for over 2 years now, it was a relief to find that she had mixed the setlist up completely. The whole set still relies heavily on the record, ‘Girl Crush’ and ‘The Best’ represent her stunning debut record ‘Compliments Please’ and there is nothing from the ‘Prima Facie’ soundtrack. But we are given three potential slices of the future in the form of brand new tracks. If you think Rebecca is on fire at the moment, then these glimpses in to what is to come in the future are outstanding. The short and sample (from the TV Series of the same name) track ‘Happy Valley’ and ‘Love Second’ continue the sharp and witty songwriting combined with incredible melodies and stunning choreography, but it is ‘Mother’ that is the clear standout.
After a brief costume change, the venue is encased in red light as the band appear in masks, jumpsuits and fetish wear. The pulsating bassline and lyrical refrain of “I am not your mother” are insane and clearly has become a firm favourite amongst her army of fans. The biggest kudos has to go not only to Sophie and Mike as the main instrument players, but also to Marged, Levi and Seraphina who are fluid in every step of the show. Never missing a beat, always on back up vocals, dancing until there is no more and for never letting it show. They are an absolute unit and a credit to Rebecca which doesn’t go amiss as she constantly shouts out her band to the adoration of the fans in the room.
Having been one half of Slow Club many moons ago, it is not strange to see Rebecca take the stage alone strapped to a guitar, in this setting though it is a lovely break from pace as the whole room stops moving, listens intently and softly sings along as she performs a solo rendition of ‘John Elton’. The combination of the funkily smooth ‘You Forever’ and the enormous power and unification of the room during the closing ‘I Do This All The Time’ are the
perfect way to end the set. Clearly as the band exit the stage, the audience want more judging by the vibrations you can feel in your feet purely from the screaming and applauding.
Moments later the noise goes up a gear as the intro to ‘I’m Fine’ starts to play out and the band return to the fore. What used to be the staple set opener now seems better suited for the encore. Rebecca leans in to the front rows as she lets the lyrics fall out giving way to letting the audience take over for the spoken word part complete with a unified howling as per the record. A marvelous spectacle and one I will not tire of seeing in all honesty.
‘The Best’ again causes a little bounce along and a huge singalong, but it is the very final track ‘Still Reigning’ that brings us full circle to the notion of female empowerment and “we will not take any sh*t” attitude Self Esteem has become synonymous with. As the band take their final bows, thank us for coming and dance off stage to Shirley Bassey’s ‘This Is My Life’, you cannot help but feel a part of history, to have witnessed something incredibly special and moving.
Back in 2021 when we reviewed the tiny (by comparison) show at the Hare & Hounds in Birmingham, we said “It will be a pleasure to see her move onwards. If you haven’t yet, get a ticket for her dates in the New Year, if you don’t you really will miss out on something special.” If you didn’t get tickets for any of these shows, then in all honesty, you really have missed out.