Live Review Self Esteem, Hammersmith Apollo, London
The second night of her London ‘I Tour This All The Time’ run is perfectly conducted ride through just about every emotion possible.
Back in late 2020, when DIY phoned Rebecca Lucy Taylor up to get an early preview of what would become her behemoth second album ‘Prioritise Pleasure’, she offered up three words in particular that really struck a chord: “enormous, choral and ridiculous”. Two-and-a-bit years later, on her second night of three at Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo, it feels like she’s really made good on that promise. A show set to be packed with intense emotion and cathartic celebration, the sense of jubilated energy felt by the crowd is palpable before things even begin. Even as the stage is set - showing off a relatively modest set-up, bathed in shadows and wafting smoke - the crowd are packed in tight, craning their necks to get a glimpse of Self Esteem as she majestically emerges atop a staircase podium to the pulsating beats of her second album’s title track. What follows is a set that’s utterly euphoric. Somehow managing to tread the perfect line between David Byrne and Bob Fosse, the show swerves reaching for bells and whistles, instead making the most of its composite parts; harmonies and acoustics are used to dazzling effect, while Rebecca and her three backing singers become more theatre troupe than band-on-stage. Proceedings even come split into three separate acts; the first, with American Utopia-esque grey suits and choreography to match, before the second arrives bathed in red lights - a lusty, contorting section that boasts Madonna-like attitude, Broadway-style finger clicks and two delicious new tracks.
It’s the third and final act, however, that really cements Self Esteem’s power as an artist. A stripped-back and solo performance of ‘John Elton’ feels utterly heartbreaking and bolstering in one, while ‘The 345’ is as effervescent as is it is cathartic. Throughout the show, there’s also a gorgeous tenderness shared by those on stage, furthering the message of ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ in even the most intimate and simple of gestures.
And, just as the crowd are left gawping at the feat of artistry they’ve just witnessed after the gut-wrenching ‘I’m Fine’ - which has the whole room howling like the dogs of the song - Rebecca pulls another pop culture U-turn and changes the atmosphere entirely: Mr Blobby joins her on stage. A perfectly conducted ride through just about every emotion possible - and a lesson in remembering to embrace the silly moments in life, too - tonight isn’t just enormous, choral and ridiculous: it’s phenomenal.”}]