GIG REVIEW: Victorious Festival at Southsea Common starring Self Esteem, James and Welly (day 1)

By Carron Stacey, A Humdrum Mum

WHEN?: Friday 26 August 2022

This year’s Victorious Common Stage was opened by Primal Scream, who last featured in 2015’s lineup, but we arrived as the crowds were heading out post-set.

  • Read on for reasons including Self Esteem, James and Welly

SOAK were our first band – which is quoted as being a phonetic portmanteau of soul and folk. Think grungy version of Camera Obscura, with a little Cranberries thrown in and you’re halfway there. The winners of the Irish Music Choice Album Prize in 2015 suited the afternoon’s sunny, lazy feel, with the lead singer Bridie’s ethereal and sweet vocals surprising us all.

My highlight of the day, the hugely anticipated Self Esteem (main picture above), was next. Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s alter ego’s second album, Prioritise Pleasure, was a huge hit last year, not just for the poppy, danceable songs, but mostly for her lyrics relating to how women are supposed to put others’ needs first, social anxiety, self-acceptance to name but a few.

Visually the band are stunning – beautifully choreographed with Taylor singing with her two amazing backing singers, to the point where the emotion from certain songs brings them into a huge embrace at the end.

The dancing and outfits are natty, the backing singers’ emulation of 90s cycling short era with matching dancing fits perfectly with Taylor’s crop top, wide palazzo pants and swirly jacket, topped off with a Madonna-esque blonde ‘do with red lipstick.

She looks, and is, amazing. Her set is both moving and uplifting; she asks us to “pop off”, which I presume means dance, all the while her penetrating lyrics render you speechless. You just have to dance and listen. What a set. Named after her own personal evolution in her 20s, Self Esteem does what it says on the tin.

Self Esteem were a hard act to follow, but aesthetically, Anna Calvi’s stunning outfit of sunglasses, white shirt and long dark hair against a red square backdrop, with guitar slung low and haunting, operatic vocals echoing around did an excellent job. Think PJ Harvey mixed with The Pretenders, but a little more slick.

James up next – the Common Stage field was rammed by this point, everyone being Stereophonics fans it seemed. Tim Booth (pictured crowdsurfing above) is a good frontman, and hearing Come Home and Born of Frustration early on were highlights for me, although sadly the sound wasn’t as good as when we then sat at the back for the rest of the gig.

Loads of new songs, which is de rigeur I know, mellowed my interest, and they missed a few classics, including She’s a Star, Say Something, Laid and Sometimes. Not finishing with Sit Down was a surprise (penultimate song), but rather Sound. The crowd clearly loved them, but I have to admit I would’ve been happier with a Best Of gig given they’ve got such a fantastic back catalogue. 

Fridays in recent years are always smaller with only one main stage and a few smaller ones, and this year the World Music Stage just rocked. We always love to hang out there and enjoy the vibe. Plus I think you get better food there!

Last night was no exception, after a slap up quesadilla from the Burrito Boys (I support them year after year!), we heard a rather noisy sound check and went to investigate. Welly was what it was. What is Welly? The new big thing in our opinion. A six-piece in PE kits, complete with a bib and a whistle, headed up by Welly himself, a youngster who had far more charisma and confidence than his years should’ve allowed.

We, and the crowd, were mesmerised. Think Yard Act lyrically, crossed with Madness on stage, and with a little 80s jangly Orange Juice on guitar thrown in. There’s more to come about Welly’s musical and theatrical influences later, as I managed to blag an interview with them post-set.

Already played on 6 Music by Steve Lamacq, this upbeat, observational, funny crew really enjoy playing to a larger crowd than is usually expected at the World Music Stage. There was even a mosh pit at the front! Songs about mowing the lawn amongst other topics keep us all jigging around and, along with Self Esteem, were our absolute highlights of the first day at Victorious 2022.

  • Pictures via Facebook courtesy Victorious Tickets 
  • Read more from Carron at her blog A Humdrum Mum
  • Have you seen any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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