Prove your humanity

Last Tuesday, Maggie Rogers paid her first visit to Perth to deliver a spectacular and down-to-earth sold-out performance on the opening night of her Heard It In A Past Life Australian tour.

Clear-voiced and conversational, local artist Stella Donnelly opened the night with her bubbly songs and unapologetically jovial humour. Performing Triple-J-loved hits like Mechanical Bull and Tricks, she also took time to charm the audience with running commentary about her tracks. From apologising to her Mum in the crowd to poking fun at her guitarist during Mosquito.

“I used my vibrator (sorry Mum), wishing it was you (not you George).”

In the wake of Stella’s high spirits, ABBA’s Dancing Queen introduced Maggie’s band to the stage. An energetic Maggie Rogers was next onto the scene, delivering the loudly wooing audience a strong start with the atmospheric and groovy Give A Little.

Continuing the upbeat vibe, strobing red lights and a synth-bell interplay introduced Burning, followed up by the naughties-R&B-esque tune Say It and a slightly more EDM-style crowd-pleaser On + Off.

Maggie then slowed down the set with Dog Years—a gentle song about friendship, dedicated to Stella for the night. Mellowly pacing the front of the stage, she took her time to melodiously sing and connect with the audience, returning smiles and quiet waves.

Up next was The Knife, which she cut a few seconds in to speak.

“We are here for you, and for us—deeply and desperately,” she expressed to a euphoric audience.

After a few songs, she continued to express her gratitude.

“I took a second and I thought about it. I started thinking about myself as a 12-year-old in farmland rural Maryland, writing songs and trying to explain to that girl what it looks like to come to Perth to play a sold-out show.”

“Thank you so much for letting me do this thing that I love. I wrote this song [Light On] to say thank you.”

A blend of folk, pop and house, the singer-songwriter’s performance was ripe with emotional peaks and troughs. From upbeat songs like Retrograde and Overnight to the warmly introspective Back in My Body, Fallingwater and a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s Angel from Montgomery.

Towards the end of the set, she performed Alaska—the song that skyrocketed her career. Featuring samples of sweet Alaskan birds, ambient vocal harmonies and soothing synths, the track was written while Maggie was overcoming a period of writer’s block. In the crowd, you could feel the aura of freedom radiating from her voice and the accompanying instrumentals.

For the encore, she returned to the stage alone. While announcing her final song, someone in the crowd requested Split Stones. Although it wasn’t on the setlist, Maggie gave the audience a good-humoured run of the chorus. This resulted in Maggie losing her first note for her intended tune Colour Song—starting, then stopping to call a keyboardist on to play it.

After he left, she continued on for a haunting solo rendition of Colour Song. Just her and her voice—so crisp, so resonant through the speakers in the dim light. The audience was watching so quietly that you could hear a pin drop. Towards the end, Maggie took the mic away from her mouth and filled the room solely with her powerful voice.

That was it. Beaming and sincere, she gave some two-handed air kisses and waves, then ran off the stage.

Maggie Rogers’ humble demeanour added to a fantastically engaging show. Through her spirited music and some happy tears, she really connected with the crowd that night. As a performer but, more importantly, as a human being. Everyone seemed to leave with a smile on their faces and warmth in their hearts.