ESCO WILLIAMS @ O2 ACADEMY, LIVERPOOL
(MiC LOWRY - Janiece Myers)
This gig was something of a family affair for ESCO WILLIAMS. With close collaborators as supports acts and an audience full of family and friends, the atmosphere from the start was one of homecoming for a local boy done good.
Singer-songwriter and Esco backing singer JANIECE MYERS showed off her impressive vocals with nothing more than a couple of acoustic guitars to back her up, and made the crowd collectively melt when she brought her tiny niece onstage to sing with her. Work, Myers’s urban blues about the 9 to 5 grind, was a deceptively sweet ode to exhaustion and paranoia, while her experiment in audience-led improvisation resulted in a belted out jam about being betrayed by Justin Bieber.
MiC LOWRY’s appearance onstage prompted the kind of screaming hysteria among the teenage girls in the audience usually reserved for members of One Direction, and the five local teenagers displayed real boyband talent with their Esco Williams-penned originals and tight harmonies. The Scouse JLS?
As the man himself strutted onstage, however, it became abundantly clear where the MiC LOWRY lads had learnt their charm. In trademark snapback and glasses Esco Williams, accompanied by his band The Kontrollers, was a man at the top of his game, effortlessly rolling out hit after hit from debut album New Challenger. The lilting, feel good Starry Eyed emphasised his dedication to the music with its mantra “We don’t care ’bout no A list/ Just wanna be on your playlist,” while the sultry soul of I Want You More easily stood its own next to a mash-up of Rihanna’s You Da One and Usher’s Climax. In fact, despite being a self-professed nerd Esco plays the part of the confident ladies’ man well, as in the smooth RnB of Hi-Score, where he promises to “make your girlfriends hate you,” and in the often dark and ominous sounding Just Friends. Throughout the gig The Kontrollers sounded tight, funky and very loud, and the three backing vocalists especially played off Esco’s exuberance to create the kind of live energy impossible to capture on record. Their first ever performance of a brand new and as of yet unnamed track also hinted that Team Esco have no plans to slow down and featured a blinding, Prince-like guitar solo. An adapted cover of Estelle’s American Boy delighted the crowd as a charismatic Esco sang about getting a Nandos from L1 and being taken to Toxteth by his Liverpool girl. The highlight of everyone’s night, though, was undoubtedly the triumphant closer New Challenger; a slice of defiant funk about beating the bad guys and winning the girl, video game style, complete with N64 sound effects. Esco had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as he led them in an extended refrain of “I win, I win/ Perfect!”
In Hi-Score he rapped “I’m like King Kenny I run Liverpool,” and by the end of the night no one needed convincing that Esco Williams is the new challenger to be reckoned with on the local music scene.