A little lick of smoke was enough to silence the rammed Queen’s Hall into a reverent hush, each of us waiting for a hint of her appearance.
She arrived: blazing and a beacon of something angry stirring in our collective consciousness. I hesitate to call her accompanying trio her ‘backup’ anything – their vocals and brushing limbs join and coalesce and rejoin as part of her, like a bright hot lava lamp, mesmerising and ever-changing.
The show kept bulging and receding like this throughout, more and less and more and less, soft then vibrant and tough, and back again, each transition perfectly timed to keep us in a fully stunned state.
The first outfits were powder blue blazers, replete with gloves, underpinning the slowed down vintage Hollywood version of the first track, ‘Prioritise Pleasure’. Throughout the set, clothes were removed and added, make-up smeared, the latter a visual layer to Self Esteem’s music from Prima Facie starring Jodie Comer. There was a striking period of the show where they all were wearing a jarring kind of red morph suit and moved as if they were jerky puppets.
Self Esteem – Queens Hall – Photo Credits: Kat Gollock
A highlight is always ‘How Can I Help You?’, where Self Esteem gets to absolutely smash the drums. An extra kit was placed on the stage surreptitiously at the summit of the stairs and she whirled her way up mid-song to meld with the drummer at the bottom of the steps, pulsing and thunderclapping her feelings that can’t be explained in words to the audience.
At one point, the show was pared back to just her, standing steady in an authoritative black suit, thick rivulets of make-up streaking her face, and her words. They also performed a beautiful acapella version of ‘The 345’ that had us all singing along and those on the stage hugging and kissing, affection as always a huge part of her work alongside the reckoning of being a woman and living.
There’s going to see a show, and then there’s going to see a show. This was unequivocally the latter.
Nuha Ruby Ra (Support Act to Self Esteem) at Queens Hall, Edinburgh – Photo credit: Kat Gollock