When Self Esteem last played at Glastonbury in 2019, she was wearing a dress fashioned from Boots Advantage Cards – a nod to the level of perfect ‘adulting’ she felt unable to achieve. It was tongue-in-cheek but also quite poignant, speaking to the many small ways in which women pressure themselves to uphold a constant sense of well-equipped poise.
In 2022, Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s outfit is less money-saving aspiration and more architecture. What appears to be a conical Madonna-esque corset-bra and cape quickly reveals itself to be modelled on Sheffield’s most famous shopping centre, Meadowhall, a tribute to her home city. The message was fun but clear: we’re not about just saving points any more, we’re taking over the whole building.
The last two years have been quite significant for Rebecca Lucy Taylor, and her Glastonbury appearance feels like an important place to take stock of her ever-growing (blonde) ambition. She stands before the John Peel crowd as a published author, a soundtrack-maker for soon-to-be-Broadway show Prima Facie, and, of course, an NME Big Read cover star.
While she cannot reflect on all of these elements in the space of one short set, the balance between the in-your-face Kanye drums of ‘How Can I Help You’ and the vocal prowess of ‘Favourite Problem’, a soulful cut from debut album ‘Compliments Please’, demonstrate how widely her talents can roam.
A main stage approach
Beginning with ‘I’m Fine’, her dancers stalked on stage in all-black, the message from the spoken-word element of the song already splayed out in stark white letters: “There is nothing that terrifies a man more than a woman that appears completely deranged.” Visible even to those outside of the tent (and there are a lot of them), it delivers serious main stage energy: simple, but highly effective.
Choreography you can actually dance along to
Although there is great joy to be had with a popstar who nails complex dance moves with panache, one of RLT’s great qualities is the ability to unite her audience with routines that we can actually replicate. When ‘Moody’ comes around, the whole tent has a go at her step-ball-change, the camaraderie of her band mimicking that of a girls’ night out. We’re nowhere near as polished as they are, but it’s fun to feel a part of the gang.
Being a bloody good laugh
Dating back to her Slow Club days, Taylor can always be relied on for solid stage banter. While the tight set time perhaps cut down on her usual chattiness, her down-to-earth personality is still as endearing as ever.
Overwhelmed by the roar of the crowd, she apologies for missing the cue on ‘Favourite Problem’ (“you made me fuck up then! Fucking hell! Can’t get over it!”), while she beamed her way through ‘Fucking Wizardy’, declaring that she felt “like Robbie Williams”. Given how heavy some of her lyrics can get, it reminds the crowd that there is great vindication in being able to share this kind of catharsis with the masses.
With second album ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ broadly celebrated as both a comfort album and a societal interrogator, Taylor never shies away from a chance to talk about the people and issues that are dear to her heart. She dedicates ‘You Forever’ to ‘Big Jeff’ Johns, the music superfan who was injured in a house fire earlier this month, and then ‘The 345’ to “our sisters in America” following the Roe vs Wade abortion overturn in the US.
Voice wavering as she sings its chorus (“Whatever you choose / There’ll always be me waiting up for you”), it sits alongside ‘I Do This All The Time’ as a real set highlight. The perfect balance of tough love and heartfelt warmth, it’s no wonder that the crowd holler back at her with such commitment. Who needs an advantage card when you can garner this kind of loyalty?
— Dani🖤 (@wiildjasmine) June 25, 2022
Self Esteem played:
‘How Can I Help You’
‘I Do This All The Time’
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