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Maggie Rogers at Alexandra Palace: a lesson in letting go

by Martha Davies. Published Thu 17 Nov 2022 15:56

When Maggie Rogers appears onstage at Alexandra Palace for the final show of her ‘Feral Joy’ tour, her silhouette is projected against an expanse of orange light as if she has commanded a solar eclipse. But just as soon as this vision materialises, Rogers steps out of her shadow. The performance that follows is radiant.

The set opens with ‘Overdrive,’ the first song on Rogers’ new album, Surrender. From the very beginning, she commits herself to the process of letting go, as she is launched, propelled, and even dragged across the stage by the music. There are no inhibitions here, even when technical issues emerge – “when you trip, you’ve just got to get back up,” Rogers announces jovially, diving into an acoustic rendition of the playful but intimate track ‘I’ve Got a Friend.

It is a treat to catch her with just a guitar and microphone, but she shines brightest when backed by her band, who allow her extraordinary vocals to really soar. Every falsetto melody is feather-light and yet always pronounced; when Rogers belts, she is dauntless and utterly absorbing.

Rogers sails through releases both new and old, performing standout tracks from Surrender as well as her debut album, Heard it in a Past Life. Her stage presence is almost bewilderingly magnetic: in ‘Shatter,’ she races around the stage, her voice a perfectly unrestrained shriek as she celebrates “flying like you'll never collapse.” Having recently written a Harvard master's thesis on the power and spirituality of live performances, Rogers is unmistakably acquainted with the profound force of music, and it becomes palpable in the form of her boundless energy. This, she reveals, is feral joy.

Stirred up by the painfully affecting ‘Begging for Rain’ as swaying flashlights emerge in the crowd, such joy spills out completely during ‘Horses.’ In the most touching moment of the show, Rogers dissolves into tears, describing the overwhelming emotion that comes with playing live music again after the pandemic.

Before the final track begins – “a song for peace,” which leaves her audience not with dizzying jubilation but simple tenderness – she reiterates the magic of this moment. “I don’t know what the f*ck happened tonight, but it was special,” she reflects. “When nights like that happen it gives me hope.”

Rogers’ performance is a thrilling testament to the power of live music: the bliss that it creates, the unity it fosters. This is vibrant sound and giddy movement, all drenched in emotion. Though her own shadow looms, Rogers emits her own light.


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