I should preface this review of Sheffield's Self Esteem at Don Valley Bowl by saying I've become a huge fan of Rebecca Lucy Taylor's music over the last few years.
Her self deprecating, emotionally raw, honest and unashamedly pop-forward music resonates with me in a way that few acts ever have. Friend after friend has told me that they, too, have become fans, after finding something meaningful in her lyrics, which capture the female experience so well.
The concert at Don Valley Bowl last night (Saturday, September 2, 2023) was the third time I've seen Self Esteem on her Prioritise Pleasure tour, from her second album, which won her a Mercury music prize nomination; and it has been clear on every single occasion that her music conjures something special and unique in her audience. In fact, I've often thought seeing her live is something akin to a religious experience, such is the connection she has with her fans.
Last night was no different. As she took to the stage at the Rock N Roll Circus for the last date on her two-year long tour, during which Self Esteem and her crew of talented singers and dancers have performed in venues up and down the country, she was met with cheers of adoration. Cries of 'I'm free' filled the air for the first song of Prioritise Pleasure.
As I looked around at the audience members surrounding me, every single person I could see sang along with rousing fervour, as they took in the spectacle of the high octane dance routines. It was so nice to see Rebecca receiving such an incredible reception in Sheffield, and she seemed to be enjoying every moment of it.
Lyrics and statements relevant to the songs being performed were emblazoned on the large screen behind Rebecca et al, the most impactful of which was 'there is nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman who appears completely deranged' to accompany, I'm Fine. The song features the statement in its outro, as a recording of a woman explaining that she and her friends bark like dogs when being approached by a group of men as part of a set of strategies to protect themselves, which also include placing their keys in between their fingers.
Other highlights of the concert include performances of F***ing Wizardry; How Can I Help You; The Best and I Do This All The Time, the single which sent her career into the stratosphere.
While Rebecca is likely to take a break from touring as she works on new music and performs in a West End revival of Cabaret, along with fellow recording star Jake Shears, of Scissor Sisters fame, I would absolutely recommend going to see Self Esteem live if you get the chance.
Rebecca curated the list of support acts during yesterday's Rock N Roll Circus, which included Natalie Imbruglia, who sounded great, and had far more hits than I remembered, including Wrong Impression; Big Mistake; Shiver, and of course, Torn.
With light up shoulder pads and breast cones and a whole host of songs which would make for the perfect Eurovision entry, Confidence Man, an indie electro band from Brisbane, Australia, were the perfect act to warm up the crowd before Self Esteem came on.
*Rock N Roll Circus presents Gatecrasher closes the festival today (Sunday, September 3, 2023) when Ferry Corsten; Sander Van Doorn (Presents Purple Haze); Ilan Bluestone; Marco V and Ruben De Ronde are all set to perform.