Self Esteem @ The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, 21 Sep

Free Love and Self Esteem offer up a thrilling and ridiculously fun evening of live music as part of Aberdeen's True North festival

Live Review by Nadia Younes | 25 Sep 2019

Free Love and Self Esteem may not seem the most obvious pairing on paper, but they accompany each other wonderfully in this late night show as part of Aberdeen Performing Arts’ True North festival.

Free Love, the Glasgow duo made up of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook, are one of the most exciting live acts around right now, if not the most exciting, and tonight they show exactly why. Although they’re opening tonight’s show they could just as easily be headlining, and the show comes just a day after the release of their latest mini-album Extreme Dance Anthems.

Rodden is a thrilling and fearless performer, refusing to restrict herself to the stage and spending more of her time in the crowd instead. Halfway through their set, she leads the duo’s two ‘NRG vessels’ – selected through email submission for each date of their current Autumn Rituals tour – through the crowd, as they bear floor-to-ceiling length red flags, while performing the haunting recent single Bones.

Later, during a performance of How Do You Feel – taken from the duo’s 2018 mini-album/EP Luxury Hits – Rodden makes a beeline for a man sitting at the back of the room on his phone, leaning right into his face to sing the line: 'Is there something you need to say?' It’s a moment of comic genius buried within an incredible live show.

Following Free Love feels an extremely difficult feat, but Rebecca Taylor and her band manage it masterfully. Formerly one half of Slow Club, Taylor fully launched her solo career as Self Esteem earlier this year with debut album Compliments Please. Accompanied by two backing vocalists and a live drummer – all dressed in red, each member bar Taylor wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words Believe Women – Taylor and her band are breathtaking.

Dance routines, a cappella reworks, onstage chemistry; you name it, Taylor and her band nail it. Taylor brings a fresh and exciting energy to the live performances of her album tracks, which tonight includes the likes of The Best, Girl Crush and In Time, and she completely commands the crowd throughout.

During the first of two a cappella versions in their set tonight, Taylor and her band perform She Reigns accompanied only by the sound of their own finger snaps. Their vocal harmonies are impeccable, and Taylor too brings a humorous tilt to her headline set, stopping momentarily to address a particularly noisy group at the bar in her best Essex accent with: “Excuse me, unless you’re buying a tequila can you be quiet?”

As they start heading offstage, All Night Passion DJs ready themselves to take the crowd into the early hours when Move Ya Body by Nina Sky comes through the speakers. Still onstage, Taylor and her band break into dance, with smiles prized across their faces, and it feels like many will see the night out in a similar mood.