Live Reviews

Self Esteem – Manchester Albert Hall: Live Review

Self Esteem continue the I Tour This All The Time jaunt. We were at the second of three dates in Manchester.

Rebecca Lucy Taylor aka Self Esteem, has seen her star grow ever brighter over the past couple of years since Prioritise Pleasure was released. This tour in continued support of the Mercury nominated album has seen Self Esteem sell over 40,000 tickets across the UK with countless extra dates added to the original schedule. She will hit American shores in April 2023 and will support Blur later in 2023.

At the second of three dates in Manchester, support came from Tom Aspaul and Tom Rasmussen. All acts in the support slots have been selected by Self Esteem personally. Both acts get the crowd warmed up brilliantly with plenty of danceable tracks and a good slice of euphoria in the mix. Rasmussen grows in confidence throughout a set that sees their exuberance and conviction grow immeasurably through singing and expressive dance. Upon taking a place in the balcony for the other acts, Rasmussen is roundly applauded such was the rapport built during the set.

With the Albert Hall packed, literally, Self Esteem’s arrival onstage is greeted with a monumental swell of adoration from the crowd. Opening with Prioritise Pleasure, the entirety of the crowd are on their feet dancing and exulting the ‘I’m free’ vocal refrain with aplomb as Self Esteem and their backing singers wow with great choreography and vocal layers bringing the gospel style to life.

It is a genuinely spellbinding opening with the crowd roar that of one that would be reserved for an encore request. This is true of the entire night. The crowd in Manchester are red hot. Moving straight into Fucking Wizardry does nothing but up the ante. Pulsing and pounding percussion and more glorious vocal harmonies soar.

The slinky bass of Moody is accompanied by an equally slinky and loose dance routine. Again, Manchester Albert Hall resembles its hallowed past as a place of worship as the M-O-O-D-Y chorus is just a pleasure to be involved with.

Just Kids lowers the tempo for a breather and is treated with almost silence before an incredibly visceral run of song and dance. With the band decked out in what look like red morph suits, Self Esteem showcase one of two new songs. Mother is another pulse pounding onslaught before an unsettling How Can I Help You? With fraught strobes and more than a red hue around the auditorium, the stage is transformed into something completely different.

What strikes further during this act of the show is that this is more than a gig. Each member of the cast gives themselves to the performance to create something that moves across the lines of theatre, contemporary dance, concert, West End show and any other creative medium in-between. Energy and enthusiasm washes over everyone.

The camaraderie and connection between Taylor and her backing singers is a joy to see. Their expressions bounce off each other telling the stories of each song with the desired emotion. This is clearly seen during the Eastern tinged Girl Crush; one of two cuts from Self Esteem’s debut album. Compliments Please is slated for a Record Store Day re-press in April 2023.

Taylor takes the stage solo for John Elton; singing the song on her electric guitar. Again, there is a reverent silence as the song lowers the tempo but not the atmosphere. To hear Self Esteem sing these songs with such gusto and show how powerful a voice she has is dazzling.

The 345, You Forever and I Do This All The Time close out the main set with the ensemble now dressed in black and white with braces and suits. I Do This All The Time is an anthem for so many with its wonderful lyrics batted back to the stage with glee with no invitation needed. The 345 is kicked off acapella before another humungous singalong ensues. It’s prophetic opening verse is one that really hits the spot.

I just wanna let you know there’s a point in you
And I know you find it harder than your peers do
But you got it like that
If you need it like that
Put it all on my back, I’ll carry it

Self Esteem’s messages throughout these songs is one of unashamed power, confidence and strength. There is a level of self deprecation and unmitigated humour but below the surface, these songs ache with beauty, pain, laughter and euphoria. The 345 sounds like it could be used in a West End musical finale as it tugs on the heartstrings in the most moving way. The grandeur is something to behold.

A three song encore kicks of with the brooding march of I’m Fine with all guns blazing. A little trip back to Compliments Please is offered in The Best. You’d be hard pressed to find a better analogy of Self Esteem right now. Truly the best. Still Reigning closes out the show. Prior to the song, someone throws a paper heart onstage; Taylor puts it on her chest to everyone’s delight. The love in the room is palpable. Every voice in the venue sings the chorus of the closer with the band who have gigantic smiles plastered across their faces.

The love you need is gentle
The love you need is kind
I figured that out after
All this alone time

On tonight’s evidence, Self Esteem’s profile is only going to grow. This show is amazing. The exciting thing to think about is where Self Esteem go next. Larger venues are probably a must; which will bring a bigger show. Taylor has a wild talent for delivering thought provoking music, but the way she wraps the sentiments in lush pop is masterful. Thank yous are offered from the stage in amongst complete rapture from the crowd as the band and Taylor depart. Prioritise pleasure…preferably with Self Esteem. You won’t regret it.

Concert photography courtesy of Steven Boon. You can check out more of his work here.

Self Esteem: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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