Photos by Dan Soderstrom
A stunning performance from the effortlessly talented and down-to-earth songwriter was just what the crowd needed.
After a turbulent week for Australia coming off of the back of an election, the Game of Thrones finale and the continued doom of climate change, Maggie Rogers provided us all with the perfect escape at her Melbourne show at Festival Hall.
Despite being only her second time performing in Australia and the fact that she was here touring her debut album Heard It In A Past Life, Rogers had no trouble filling the giant venue that is Festival Hall.
And if writing and producing her new record wasn’t impressive enough, she truly outdid herself when she brought it to life on stage in front of her adoring Melbourne fans.
Stella Donnelly opened the show with an acknowledgement of country, stating “always was, always will be Aboriginal land”. Her joyous demeanour was then juxtaposed with a strong presence and powerful lyrics. She was clearly nervous, stating that her knees were shaking, but that didn’t stop her filling the hall with her angelic, raspy voice that brought her emotions to the forefront – most notably in her songs, ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ and ‘Old Man’.
Then the crowd were gifted with the American singer they had come to see. As the lights dimmed, ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA blared as Rogers appeared on stage in an entirely white outfit, complete with an ironic long flowing red scarf draping from her arms.
Rogers made an impact from the get-go as she danced around the stag;, her power-driven moves matched the beats perfectly, drawing similarities to Lorde’s iconic dance-style.
There were times throughout her performance where she sounded a tad breathless and struggled to get all her lyrics out at the cost of her active performance, but Rogers acknowledged this. At one point, she stopped a song after just a few seconds, telling the audience that was out of breath and needed a few moments to be able to perform with her full body.
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Spent some time reflecting on this show. One of the best I’ve ever seen and a show that truly resonated with me as an artist. I admire @maggierogers for so many reasons but most of all, her honest song writing, bold production choices and ability to be transparent with herself and her listeners. Thank you for a spectacular Melbourne show 🌹#hearditinapastlife #maggierogers
This was followed by a raw speech in which she noted, “I write songs and I play them because I have a lot of feelings, as evidenced by my performance so far, and sometimes I get emotional whiplash”.
“I’m truly a pro since the last time you saw me”, she said referencing playing at The Forum last time she was in the country. She then returned to the mic saying, “sorry I lost my train of thought” and was quickly drowned out in applause by the audience. They were well and truly in the palm of her hand.
Some of her songs were notably more well-known than others, evident by the crowd singing along to ‘Light On’, ‘Fallingwater’ and ‘Dog Years’, the latter in which she gave the mic over to the crowd to chant her lyrics: “I’m the one who loves you”. But her lesser known songs seemed to blend together into a haze of her whimsical folk-inspired pop, filling the space between the tracks the crowd were able to sing along to.
Overall, it was an incredibly well-rounded show in which Rogers took the crowd from a jumping-along energy to slower emotional-driven moments.
To end it all, Rogers appeared for her encore without a band. “I’ve been thinking about the power of quiet”, she said. And then, telling the audience she struggles to sleep after any performance, and especially one to 4000 people, she offered, “So I thought we could come down together”. Rogers then began to sing without any music to accompany her; a perfect quiet finish to her power-driven show.
Highlight: When the crowd all got out their phone lights for ‘Light On’.
Lowlight: Despite Rogers best efforts to show us how to move, the crowd was disappointingly still throughout the show.
Crowd Favourite: A tie between ‘Alaska’ and ‘Fallingwater’.