Sunday 26 March 2023

Self Esteem - Manchester Albert Hall - 23rd March 2023

Since the release of her Mercury Prize-nominated second album, Prioritise Pleasure, things have been nonstop for Rebecca Lucy Taylor (AKA Self Esteem). Having spent the majority of 2021 impressing on the live music and festival circuit, with career defining sets at Tramlines and Glastonbury, fan demand recently saw the Sheffield born singer-songwriter add a run of extra dates to her ’I Tour This All The Time’ tour – including a third night at Manchester’s Albert Hall, which made her the first artist not only to play, but to sell out three nights at the picturesque venue.

Taking to the stage for the penultimate night of the biggest tour of her career to date, Self Esteem kicked off proceedings with the lively trio of Prioritise Pleasure, Fucking Wizardry and Moody – three tracks that the crowd had no problem matching the energy of as they sang along to every word. If you’ve seen Self Esteem live before, you’ll know that Rebecca rarely stands still and when she’s not engaged in slick choreography, she’s pacing around the stage, maintaining constant interaction with the crowd.

Rebecca’s skillset doesn’t end with upbeat tracks and swelling choruses and she delivered one of the most stunning moments of the night when she stepped into the spotlight to air her vulnerable side with Just Kids – an intimate track about longing for the better days in a failing relationship. A raucous crowd is always a concern when an artist brings down the tempo, but when Rebecca did with both Just Kids and the moving John Elton, she stunned the crowd into total silence, which reflected the level of respect and unity that’s present at Self Esteem gigs.

It's no secret that Rebecca is a huge ‘Happy Valley’ fan, and she confirmed her love for the show when an audio clip of Sarah Lancashire’s character, Catherine Cawood soundtracked a costume change. Returning to a stage drowned in red lighting, Rebecca launched into a rapturous new song titled Mother that showcased some of her best choreography yet, before the blistering How Can I Help You – with cathartic lyrics that take aim at the misogynistic standards and objectification that women are subjected to - and another new track titled Love Second. Definite highlights in the set, the new tracks offered a glimpse into what’s next for Self Esteem and served as a reminder of not just her ambition and desire to experiment, but that there’s no other artist doing what she is right now.

Self Esteem’s band are next level and the last part of the main set really saw them shine – from the slick choreography of Girl Crush and You Forever, to the flawless backing vocals of The 345 and I Do This All The Time, they certainly impressed throughout, and it was clear to see from the smiles plastered across their faces throughout the set that they’re one big family both onstage and off. A lyrical gem that perfectly encapsulates Rebecca’s skill for producing tracks of an empathic nature, the set came to a perfect close with I Do This All The Time – a spoken word outpouring in which she explores how complicated it is to just be a human.

Returning to a rapturous reaction from the crowd, Self Esteem played a three-song encore. First up was I’m Fine, which saw Rebecca address the issue of consent, alongside rumbling synths, and dark beats, before catapulting into The Best from her debut album Compliments Please. Bringing a moment of collective catharsis, the set came to the perfect end with a stunning rendition of Still Reigning, which saw Rebecca and her band hold hands before taking their well-deserved bows.

With bass rumbles, huge hooks and relatable lyrics, Self Esteem has essentially created a genre of her own and there’s nothing as empowering as attending one of her shows. With another Summer of festivals ahead and her third album reportedly on the way, it’s an incredibly exciting time to be a Self Esteem fan and she deserves every ounce of her success.

Self Esteem's website can be found here and she is on Facebook and Twitter.


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