Maggie Rogers live in London: feeling it all, together

November 10, Alexandra Palace: The artist’s return to the stage post-pandemic is an ecstatic celebration of the power of live music

“Thank you all for coming. I know it took a fucking lot”, Maggie Rogers says earnestly to her London crowd. Amidst tube strikes and cancelled trains, it feels like everyone has made it here to Ally Pally against the odds. On this, the last night of Rogers’ UK ‘Feral Joy’ tour, the concert hall is buzzing with palpable excitement and relief. “I hope we make it worth your while”, Rogers adds.

Swashbuckling at the helm of an “emotional whirlwind” through July’s ‘Surrender’ and debut album ‘Heard It In A Past Life’, Rogers reminds London – after three years away – how much of a beacon of power, intention and inexhaustible energy she is on stage. Given she’s spent recent years studying at Harvard and examining the power of a live performance, it’s little surprise to see how sacred the stage is for her

New tracks ‘Want Want’ and ‘That’s Where I Am’ see her whip across space like a rocket, a physical embodiment of the distortion of ‘Surrender’; she sways and twirls under sensuous blue lights to the bellows and wind-chimes of older tracks ‘Dog Years’ and ‘Say It’. Each song reverberates through her, her body a vessel for every drum beat and crash she knows so well. Rogers also delivers her best and most confident vocals to date, striking the opening high note of ‘Fallingwater’ straight on with a full heart and howling through ‘Anywhere With You’ and ‘Back In My Body’ with breathtaking strength and precision. She belts high, strong and unafraid.

She does all this, notwithstanding the technical issues that beset the first few songs. The exact issues aren’t clear, but Rogers’ voice and the explosive force of the band are lost on a few songs where they deserve to stand out, like ‘Shatter’ and ‘Overdrive’. These songs, designed to obliterate when played live, play slightly too quietly, missing the gut punch that makes the songs what they are. At this point the crowd is animated but still decidedly un-“feral”, perhaps not yet bounced back from the journey here, or in need of a vibe check after switching from the heaving raucousness of ‘Want Want’ to the quiet intimacy of ‘I Got A Friend’ in a matter of seconds (a quick-footed decision by Rogers to play the latter earlier, and acoustically, in response to tech issues).

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But something beautiful happens in the show’s second half. Rogers picks up her guitar and leads the crowd into ‘Begging for Rain’, a plea for decency and salvation, one of the most vulnerable and sincere moments on ‘Surrender’. “I keep waiting…”, Rogers calls out. Suddenly, one by one, the crowd turns their flashlights on, bathing Rogers and the room in a warm, swaying glow of smartphone candlelights.

It’s only on the next song, ‘Horses’, that Rogers reacts to the moment just passed. One line into the chorus, she takes pause. The crowd keeps singing – “I see horses running wild / I wish I could feel like that for just a minute / Would you come with me or would you resist?” – before they realise she is crying. “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten the words”, she laughs bashfully. “Fuck, the lights were just so beautiful. There are these moments on this tour, where we get to play music again, and for a second there’s just so much and it comes out all at once.” Moments like this define Rogers as an artist: she’s a real person, one singing from love, passion and sincerity, holding onto a pure belief in live music as a means for connection and feeling.

A dam has broken; the feeling of holding our breath has finally given way to exhalation. The crowd loosens up now, jumps higher, shouts louder, holds each other closer. People have come here, to this space, wanting to let go. This is that moment. Rogers sends us on our way, a little lighter than we were before.

Maggie Rogers played:

‘Overdrive’
‘Want Want’
‘I’ve Got A Friend’
‘Say It’
‘Honey’
‘Love You For A Long Time’
‘Shatter’
‘Dog Years’
‘Symphony’
‘Back In My Body’
‘Alaska’
‘Begging For Rain’
‘Horses’
‘Anywhere With You’
‘Light On’
‘That’s Where I Am’
‘Fallingwater’
‘Different Kind of World’

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