Live Review: Maggie Rogers – O2 Academy Leeds. 31.10.22

Maryland singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers kicked off her world tour in Leeds on Halloween, getting the Feral Joy roadshow off to a flying start.

Around 1,500 packed into the O2 Academy, many suitably attired for the spooky festivities, which no doubt continued into the damp West Yorkshire night. Her socials promised something fun and special for this Halloween kick off, and Rogers is as good as her word. Even before coming on, the stage is drenched in blood-red lighting, setting an appropriately gruesome tone.

It’s at odds though with the beautiful positivity with which Rogers and her 6-piece band hit the stage. Striped tops for the band, and a full on sailor outfit for Maggie complete a nautical theme (“because dressing up is fun!”) as she runs straight through the first 4 high energy songs before taking a breath to chat to the audience. And it’s in some way a poignant first conversation – Rogers calls out the symmetry between tonight and the last time she played live as part of a tour. It was almost exactly 3 years ago (Oct 30 2019), and tonight feels like coming full circle.

Musically, there’s a lot to like in this 18 song set. From the insistently positive start of Overdrive and Want Want, through some beautifully vulnerable acoustic numbers – Begging for Rain and Horses, to the euphoric singalongs of Light On and 2022’s hit That’s Where I Am, it’s a well balanced show, smartly constructed and expertly delivered.

There’s a lovely moment, right at the end of encore where a child shouts out from the crowd. Maggie latches on immediately, engaging with the young fan. She dedicates the final song – Different Kind of World – to her, written “with girls like you in mind”.

We have had both ends of the Feral Joy spectrum tonight. The tour title sums up the struggles of the past few years, how anger and joy co-exist so closely and this is designed to acknowledge and honour both these feelings. It’s balanced in the quietly expressed anger of Horses, with the bouncy happiness and commitment to love in That’s Where I Am and the hope of Different Kind of World.

One last song, I’ll write a song
And know that it’s for you
That new friend I haven’t met
With a different point of view

In the end, it’s joy that wins.

Want Want
Say It
Be Cool
Love You For A Long Time
Back in My Body
I’ve Got a Friend
Begging for Rain
Anywhere With You
Light On
That’s Where I Am
Different Kind of World

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