When singer, songwriter and producer Maggie Rogers, hit the stage of Thebarton Theatre Saturday night, the place was transformed. For one of the most exciting acts to emerge this decade with her brilliant debut album Heard It In A Past Life, this was Rogers first time in Adelaide, having toured only the Eastern states in previous years. It’s pretty safe to say that she won’t leave Adelaide off the list ever again after the pumped-up reception by tonight’s crowd.
Support for the night was the talented and vivacious Indie Rock Artist, Stella Donnelly, accompanied on guitar by her friend who is a talent in her own right: Jennifer Aslett (“Jenny”) from San Cisco. Donnelly couldn’t contain her excitement as support for Maggie Rogers and calling it the “gig of a lifetime for her” at this point in her career. Judging by her vibrant and happy stage presence she can hold her own when it comes to being on stage.
Starting with her song Grey, then onto the not so glowing ode to her ex-boss, U Owe Me and Lunch before she told us the story of how her mum was embarrassed by the next song, Mosquito. The topic of a vibrator had her mum telling her that “I now need to go to work in a disguise because of that song on the radio.” Donnelly is as charming telling a story as she is singing one. When she launched into the song Old Man, she had to clarify that her dad wanted everyone to know it’s not about him.
Her joyous banter with the audience was delightful, even when this Western Australian native gave the Adelaide crowd a digging about the win by West Coast Eagles against the Adelaide Crows in the footy this evening, we couldn’t damper our love for her. Ending her set with Died and the catchy Tricks, Donnelly was the perfect fit before the main act.
As soon as the lights went down and the beat of Abba’s Dancing Queen played, we knew it was time. Rogers didn’t just walk in, her stride was bold, her determination was high and she rocked it from the moment she hit the stage. The second the beat of Give a Little started, the crowd responded with a burst of energy, bouncing and dancing like no one was watching matching the efforts of Rogers herself. There’s nothing like being in the front row where you have no choice but to dance along with the die-hard fans. It was thrilling and exhilarating at the same time, even Rogers knew this and invited everyone in the back seats to “join the concert.” She explained “I believe that the biggest emotional release comes from when you can feel a lot and when you can vent it out of your body. Its Saturday live a little!”
The energy continued with Burning, Say It, On & Off, crowd favourite Dog Years and the fierce and ferocious performance of The Knife. When she sang “when the knife of insight brought me to my knees” she brought us all to our knees! Rogers sings with such conviction and passion she takes you with her on a spiritual and emotional high. Her blend of folk and dance music is mesmerising and more so in a live setting as you feel her energy and soulful intensity. Another crowd favourite Retrograde continued her burst of powerful energy and hip swaying dance moves.
Rogers announced that this week was coming up to the third-year anniversary of a video that changed her life forever. Telling us “it’s a funny anniversary to celebrate because it is a birth of a new life and in some ways the death of an old life and this whole re-birth and past life revisited. Oh, and you can hear all about it on the next album.” She said, it was so special to be back in Australia “and finally getting to play in Adelaide for the very first time,” which pleased the Adelaide crowd who waited a long time to see her live. She dedicated Light On to the crowd saying she wrote it as a thank you to everyone. The crowd erupted once she started, you could barely hear her sing and it was a glorious duet between Rogers and every person in the venue. When she sang “Oh, if you keep reaching out, Then I’ll keep coming back, And if you’re gone for good, Then I’m okay with that, And if you leave the light on, Then I’ll leave the light on” its safe to say her fans in Adelaide will leave the light on and keep coming back.
Slowing things down with the Stevie Nicks sounding Past Life, you could hear the crowd singing along word for word. During the song Overnight while swinging and swaying she covered the long red scarfe around her head and it got stuck during the lyrics “I’m gone.” Talk about timing! Stopping mid song to laugh at her misfortune she showed us a playful side then continued singing as if nothing happened.
Then she sang Alaska. The song that started the whole Maggie Rogers story and the crowd once again sang their hearts out along with her. Back in my Body gave us a whaling and haunting vibe before it was time for Fallingwater where she asked us to clap along. By this stage, we were all under her spell and she could’ve asked us anything and we would do it. The claps were loud and the crowd were in a state of joyous frenzy.
Clearly this was the last song before the encore but when Rogers and her band took a bow the roar from the crowd was thunderous. The cheering went on for a good two minutes and at one point when you thought it was ending the crowd just got louder, even stomping their feet. Overwhelmed with emotion, Rogers placed her hands over her face and just soaked it all in. There was no doubt Adelaide loves Maggie Rogers.
Coming back on for the encore had her once again overwhelmed as the crowd continued the cheering. She decided to end the night with the slow and haunting The Colour Song. She told the crowd she was going to “sing a nice calming down lullaby” and asked us to be the “equivalent of the quiet serious team huddle before the match.” Mentioning that she was going to just sing and told us “if you have to cough or sneeze and be human don’t stress just do it, its ok and if you have to yell something just don’t cos that’s just rude.”
From the moment she sang it was mesmerising. Rogers alone on stage, just her and her microphone. Nearing the end of the song she stepped forward towards the crowd while gradually moving the microphone away from her face until both her hands were by her side. The silence of the crowd was deafening yet her melodic and angelic voice so powerful and could be heard all around the Thebarton Theatre. She didn’t need the microphone. It was haunting and it was beautiful. Then she finished singing and said “see you soon.” With those final words she took one look at the crowd with a grateful and thankful expression, blew us a few kisses then just ran disappearing off the stage like a proud nightingale.
I asked the girl in the front row what she thought of the show. She told me travelled from Melbourne and just flew in from seeing the Perth show. Adelaide was her third Maggie Rogers show. Melbourne and Perth were great but, in her opinion, Adelaide was the best show by far. The way the Adelaide crowd were so loud and passionate it created such an electric atmosphere to help make the show unforgettable.
For all of us, Maggie Rogers you are unforgettable.
Live Review By Anastasia Lambis