O2 Academy Birmingham, 6th November 2023
Throughout her relatively short career thus far, Maisie Peters has found her niche in the ever-evolving musical landscape. Emerging as a contemporary of trailblazer Taylor Swift, Peters has quickly established herself as an artist inspired by Swift’s legacy, while also cultivating her own unique identity. While her debut album, You Signed Up For This, introduced Peters as the quintessential girl-next-door navigating her way through life, her sophomore album, The Good Witch, delves into the aftermaths of relationships, female rage, and the quest for vindication and revenge. Nowhere is this desire for catharsis than in one of her electrifying live shows.
The setlist is a balance of tracks from her debut
As the crowd fills Birmingham’s O2 Academy, it becomes evident that most of Peters’ fans share a striking similarity with the artist herself. Teenagers and young adults make up the majority of the audience, and are all present for the same purpose: to join Peters in a cathartic release of emotions, expressed through her and the crowd’s heartfelt singing, and at times, shouting. Together, they confront those who have wronged them, the ups and downs of growing up, and the admission of their own mistakes.
The main lights dim and bathe the stage in a soft, orange glow, the audience appreciates the staging for the first time. Giant, inflatable clouds adorn the stage reminiscent of The Good Witch’s album cover. Similar oversized inflatable letters spell “GOOD WITCH” in the background. Albeit slightly cheap-looking, it adds to the already immersive atmosphere, enhanced by the wafting scent of incense permeating from the side of the stage.
The show kicks off with a teaser recording of ‘The Good Witch’ followed by Peters; enthusiastic entrance, her smile stretching from ear to ear as she launches into ‘Coming of Age’. This punchy, bass-heavy pop song about the journey to adulthood encapsulates what makes her such a remarkable artist. Without a moment’s pause, she then transitions into ‘Body Better’, an infectious earworm of a song.
The setlist is a balance of tracks from her debut, including the sentimental ‘Love Him I Don’t’ and the fan-favorite ‘John Hughes Movie,’ and songs from The Good Witch (Deluxe), such as the Peter Pan-inspired guitar ballad ‘Wendy,’ which contemplates the inevitability of growing up, and ‘Yoko,’ an intimate and reflective piece that draws parallels between The Beatles’ breakup and a failed relationship.
Peters provides an outlet for catharsis
Being an artist beloved by her fans, Peters faces the challenge of not being able to play everyone’s favourite song. Her solution? A medley that combines ‘Two Weeks Ago’, ‘You Signed Up For This’, ‘Worst of You’, and a cover of One Direction’s ‘Night Changes’. However, the transition between these snippets feels somewhat forced and abrupt, making the alternative of hearing one or two of those songs in full seem more appealing.
The Good Witch truly shines in its exploration of self-awareness and female rage, notably in the songs ‘Watch’ and ‘BSC’. Both songs are met with an impassioned wall of sound from the audience as they sing along to every single word, emphasising the lines that resonate with them. Peters provides an outlet for catharsis, as 3000 voices unite in singing “Well f**king sue me ‘cause at least then we could talk” during ‘Watch’ or “Mr ‘I don’t want a label’, you made me Little Miss Unstable” during ‘BSC’. There’s a comforting element in acknowledging one’s emotions, even if they include anger or instability, and knowing that everyone around you has felt similarly at some point in their lives.
Amidst the rage, Peters transitions into ‘There It Goes’ a healing, twinkling, hopeful song about letting go of a toxic love and moving forward. This track feels like the closure to a night of emotional release, soothing the raw intensity of earlier moments. She then performs ‘Cate’s Brother’ before thanking the audience and exiting the stage, plunging the crowd into darkness.
However, chants of “Maisie, Maisie!” beckon her return, and she reappears to sing ‘History of Man’. This stripped-back bittersweet track ties together the emotions expressed through the show. Lyrics like “I’m sure there was heartbreak / Inside the walls of Jericho” and “The men start wars / Yet Troy hates Helen” bring the performance full circle.
While the suffering expressed will persist, as it always has, the audience’s heartwarming smiles signify a shift in them, allowing them to move forward with the understanding that they will ultimately be okay, no matter the challenges they may face.
Finally, the show concludes with ‘Lost The Breakup,’ a high-energy number that jolts the audience out of their reverie from ‘History of Man’ and ends the night on an undeniable high note, leaving the crowd buzzing with a sense of shared renewal and empowerment. In the words of Peters herself, “If we’re living the dream / I hope we never wake up.”