Rebecca Lucy Taylor is pure musical electricity. She’s mid eighties Madonna with a Riot Grrrl tint. Seeing as those two things are on my favourites list, I was always going to fall for Self Esteem. The production is shiny and new, the vocals are great and the songs are made for Wembley Stadium in the same way as Bad or Like A Virgin. So yeah, it is strange to see her at the Exeter Phoenix, a nice snug little venue. This will be the last tour you can see her in venues like this, sorry about that.
This was one of the strangest audiences I have seen for a while, there is the obvious G.A.Y. fans, the stroppy alternative kids and a large amount of older fans, obviously taken by her literary/acid edge. Then there were the parents with their kids, at their first gigs, the great thing about Pop gigs is the lack of snobbery. No one is going to ask you about a three year old Self Esteem B-side, hell a majority of this audience doesn’t even know what a b-side IS. It’s just an evening of pop joy and attitude (Attitude?), all inclusive.
Dance moves, pop tunes, two great voiced backing vocalists, songs such as ‘Fucking Wizardry’, my favourite from the recent album Prioritise Pleasure, glow in the live arena, close your eyes and they could be playing the record, until Rebecca adds an ad lib or a laugh, it is a party and we are all invited. ‘How Can I Help You’ can cut through glass and the girls near me were dancing like it was 1999. The title track is another stormer, with the crowd swaying frantically as much as the on stage action. By swaying, I mean jumping around like happy lil bunnies. The happy sounds of the songs are a Trojan horse, of course, when you look at the lyrics, it paints a much blacker picture, but you are not being lectured at and there is no sneering, I’m guessing that Taylor’s time in a cult ‘indie’ band made her turn away from exclusive clubs and with these songs, she should be ready for the outdoor gigs soon.
She plays the classic “This is the last song” routine, but gives a literal wink to us all, so we know there is more to come, in the magical form of another Kendall favourite ‘John Elton’, sung in the space between the stage and the audience by the three talented singers, it is utterly mesmerising and for all the p-o-p theatrics of the set, this was a highlight.
Listening to Prioritise Pleasure as I have since the day of release, I was unsure how it would convert to the live arena but I am happy to confirm that Self Esteem is a showgirl through and through, but also leaving you with plenty to think about – everyone I saw leaving past me had a smile on their face and the use of Meredith Brooks’ ‘Bitch’ as the closing/exit music was amusing as I remember the press giving her sh!t for, you know, having attitude and not playing the game and here is a new generation singing and dancing along to it when they have already forgotten last week’s big indie band.
See you in the arenas.