Normally when I write an article about a gig I’ve seen, a lot of what I talk about is very subjective to my own experience. I’m sure there’s been times where I’ve written things that others haven’t agreed with. This article isn’t going to be one of them. What follows is totalling and utterly objective: Maggie Rogers is bloody fantastic and everything she did during her set at the Sydney Opera House was next level brilliant.
As part of Vivid Live, the American artist behind one of 2019’s best albums went about delivering one of the most energetic and magically enchanting live sets seen in a long time. While only on stage for seventy minutes, Rogers captured the imagination and infinite gaze of the crowd as she danced, sung, confessed and loved her way through her set.
I wrote at the time of the release of her album Heard It In A Past Life that Maggie Rogers is unapologetically herself. She is honest and true. There is no facade to her persona. I still don’t know her at all, but my lord, from what she put forward, I was pretty spot on with my assessment. Firstly, she entered to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”. If that’s not a sure sign that she’s a legend, I don’t know what is. Opening the night with “Give a Little”, Rogers told the crowd to get out of their seats, on to their feet and dance. And just as swiftly as she entered the stage, the crowd got to their feet and adhered to her call.
Swiftly moving into “Burning”, opening the set with two downbeat dance tracks set the pace for the night and hit the lofty heights that the remainder of the set continued to continually smash. Throwing in both “Split Stones” and “Say It”, you quickly came to realise how genuine Maggie is, as she spoke openly about how stoked she was to play the Opera House. Comparing the venue to Colorado’s Red Rocks ampitheatre, Rogers took the time to introduce her band before moving moving into “On + Off”.
Rogers was open about her rise to musical stardom and her need to stay grounded during that rise. Endearing herself to the crowd even more, she spoke openly about how for the longest time, since her ‘breakthrough’, she was scared. Scared of the immediacy, the change and the differences that were about to occur in her life. She spoke openly about how Heard It In A Past Life was about this change. Three years on from her initial breakthrough, Maggie is now confident, happy and content. She knows she’s in a privileged position; privileged to be able to share this show, in this venue, with so many people. The emotion you could hear, sense and see was clear; it was real. Too often artists become maligned with the nature of touring and the stresses it has on their lives. While she made it clear that she may have struggled at times over the past three years, the effort that Rogers puts into everything she does on stage was clear. She was thankful and grateful.
In an earlier part of the night, specifically during “Retrograde”, Maggie spoke about how at times she’ll feel as if she’s left her body; transcended this plain and lives outside her being. While not physically seen, you could sense it in the room that this was happening to many in attendance. There was a special vibe in the room. It was hard to quantify.
Peaks of the night came in the form of “Light On” and my personal favourite “Back In My Body” (with confetti cannon). Closing the main set with the near perfect “Fallingwater”, it had hymnal feels to it, as the harmonies between her and her band hit a new high. Re-entering the stage for an encore sans band and sans instruments, Maggie went acapella with her track “Colour Song”. Managing to call a gronk out for wolf-whistling her only made you appreciate the night and her that bit more.
Maggie Rogers has sold out the entirety of her Australian tour. This is no mean feat. Based on her set at the Opera House, it was totally justified. Jump on what Maggie Rogers is doing. If it’s not great already, she’s definitely well on the way.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Maggie Rogers’ Australian tour has now concluded, finishing up last night in Brisbane.