LIVE: Self Esteem - Stylus, Leeds, 02/03/2022 2

LIVE: Self Esteem – Stylus, Leeds, 02/03/2022

Having dominated the #1 spot of both ‘Albums of 2021’ and ‘Tracks of 2021’ lists, Rebecca Lucy Taylor (AKA Self Esteem) is currently in the midst of her biggest tour yet. Starting in Huddersfield last month, the tour will see her make her debut stateside before embarking on her busiest Summer yet – with slots penned in at Latitude and Glastonbury. We were lucky enough to catch her sold out show at Leeds’ Stylus last Wednesday.

Kicking off proceedings with the rumbling synth and dark beat of ‘I’m Fine’, Taylor addressed the issue of consent – showcasing her hardcore fanbase, the track offered the first community vibe of the night as 1000 people barked along with her towards the end, which features a spoken word snippet taken from a National Youth Theatre workshop on the topic of consent. Unsurprisingly, Taylor’s set was full of powerful tracks and this continued with ‘Fucking Wizardry’ and the title track of her latest album, Prioritise Pleasure – with the latter’s glitching synths and lyrics about putting yourself first flooding the packed venue, whilst Taylor and her band impressed with their slick choreography and flawless vocals.

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Things that you can always be certain of at a Self Esteem gig are the love shared between Taylor and her band, their collective sheer talent and how much fun they’re all having onstage. The latter was particularly evident during the empowering, ’You Forever’, which possesses a funky beat and sharp bass-line that had everybody in the room dancing. As the crowd shouted every word back to her, Taylor was grinning from ear to ear and it wasn’t just Prioritise Pleasure tracks that received a rapturous response, tracks from her debut album, Compliments Please were met with the same amount of love – including the synth-laced ‘In Time’, which gave Taylor and co another opportunity to demonstrate their polished choreography that fails to see any of them break a sweat.

There’s no doubt about it that Taylor is a lyrical genius and this was perhaps most apparent in the anthemic ‘Moody’, which possesses some of the wittiest lyrics on her latest album (“sexting you at the mental health talk seems counterproductive”). Though one of the most biblical moments of the night was the blistering ‘How Can I Help You’, with its pummelling beats – courtesy of Taylor battering the drums – and cathartic lyrics that take aim at the misogynistic standards and objectification that women are subjected to, her skillset doesn’t end with upbeat tracks and swelling choruses.

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A perfect example of Taylor’s capability of also producing tracks of a more delicate, empathic nature is ‘I Do This All The Time’ – another lyrical gem that took us down a more vulnerable route as Taylor used spoken word verses to explore how complicated it is to be a human. Her vulnerability was proudly displayed again when armed with an acoustic guitar, Taylor was joined by her band to perform a beautifully stripped back rendition of ‘Just Kids’. It’s incredibly rare for an artist to receive complete silence during a slow number and Taylor achieved just that – you could have heard a pin drop and it was without a doubt one of the highlights of her set.

It’s safe to say that Taylor is one of a kind – not only are there no other artists doing what she’s doing as Self Esteem, but there are no other shows with the overwhelming element of unity and support around them that hers bring. With a busy Summer of festivals ahead and an upcoming slot at 6 Music Festival, huge things are on the horizon for Self Esteem so if you can catch her on her current tour of intimate venues, we strongly advise it!

Photos: Laura Dean

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.