Maisie Peters prances across the stage under the crimson light at Metro Theatre in Sydney as the audience screams every word of ‘I’m Trying (Not Friends)’ back to her, imbuing the room with a strong sense of unity and togetherness. Maisie had just delighted her mostly young and female crowd with a sassy opener, “Not Another Rockstar”, followed by my personal favourite, “Worst of You”.
Fans (they call themselves “Maisie’s daisies”) have been eagerly anticipating Maisie’s visit to Australia. It’s been six years since the 5’1” songbird released her debut single, “Place We Were Made”, and she’s down under for the first time to support her boss and friend, Ed Sheeran (whom she fondly refers to as “Ed Sheran”) on his “+–=÷x” Australian tour while headlining multiple shows. Having upgraded her venues in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne to increase her show capacity, the rising act has come a long way since her early days of rapping Macklemore in English small-town Steyning and sharing her original work on YouTube.
Maisie Peters is a brilliant pop artist with unforgettable one-liners and catchy coming-of-age ear worms, but she refuses to be limited and defined by a genre. Venturing across different musical styles, Maisie is a lyrical prowess who experiments with elements of rock in “Cate’s Brother” and dancehall in “Sad Girl Summer”. The common (and defining) thread of these songs is Maisie, who doesn’t set out to impress (though she has already received nods of approval from Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers) — she refuses to water down her truth or not name names.
“Well, I might be bitter and twisted and broken and petty and lying,
And you might be awful like all of the time, yeah, it’s almost inspiring,
But at least I’m trying.”
You might find her sharp-tongued when she personifies the saying “hell is a teenage girl” in “Villain” — “now you’re in her room getting undressed, I curse you on the front of the steps, I’ll burn this house, I mean it” or when she sings about the inevitable heartbreak one experiences while growing up in “Tough Act” — “and you forgot how to miss me, when I’m not much of who you grew up with”, but it is precisely the loyalty she has to herself that I find refreshing and aspiring.
Anyone in attendance could tell you the religious experience Maisie offers to her young adult fanbase: there are tears, laughter and hand-holding in the crowd as she launches into a medley of what she refers to as the “traumatising songs” in her catalogue – all of which are narratives that provide important insight into teenage angst, affliction, and affinity — When Maisie sings “Good Enough”, a wistful tune about wanting to be adequate for someone, and the antithesis of her feel-good anthem “Blonde”, it feels as though Maisie is laying her diary entries bare for everyone to read. My favourite moment of the show arrives when she takes a Pride flag from the crowd, dedicating “John Hughes Movie” to the Queer community and thanking them for their support. Cheers and cries immediately ring out from the crowd – it’s the week of Mardi Gras in Sydney, and I know first-hand that it means the world to feel seen and acknowledged by your favourite artist.
Maisie’s cathartic discography seems to document a lot of her firsts: she tells the crowd about writing “Brooklyn” when she travelled to New York City with her twin sister for the first time, and “Birthday” seems to be a song you put on repeat on your first of many sad birthdays. They both illustrate the joys and woes of being a young adult – you discover and experience many states of emotions – they’re not all good, but they’re not all bad. Maisie navigates this fine line quite well. Being the same age as Maisie, I grew up having Taylor Swift, who was unafraid of expressing her growing pains when I was still confused about my own, as a clear voice of reason in times of emotional turmoil. I feel relieved in knowing that the teenagers of today will course through their young adulthood with a voice as clear and as authentic as Maisie Peters.
Show Date: 02.28.23 | Sydney, Australia @ Metro Theatre | Maisie Peters:A Lyrical Prowess