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LIVE REVIEW: Maisie Peters casts her spell across Fortitude Music Hall

Photography by Sophie Scott


If you chanced upon passing The Fortitude Music Hall last Tuesday, you might have been lucky enough to witness the sparkling sense of magic scattered across Meanjin/Brisbane, as it prepared for night 1 of Maisie Peters'The Good Witch tour, opened by Australia's beloved Gretta Ray and powerhouse Dylan.


The warm evening felt alight with electricity, the air practically tingling with the tangible anticipation of Maisie fans waiting eagerly in line to be let in, exchanging excitement and crystals to pass the time. I can confirm I was one of them through and through, overcome with a teenager-like thrill to be attending a show headlined by not only one of my greatest musical inspirations but objectively one of the upcoming best popstars, dare I say, of all time.


 

The night commenced with the beautiful Gretta, who lit up the stage from the moment she stepped out with a warmth that reached the furthest corners of The Fortitude Music Hall. This warmth extended deep into the honey tone of her vocals, as she began her set with 'Heartbreak Baby,' an absolute anthem that it's impossible not to dance to.


This was followed up by an old favourite, a rendition of 'Radio Silence' that had the day one fans singing their hearts out to every lyric (myself included - this track was the first of Gretta's I discovered years ago so you can imagine I was thrilled).


Gretta is one of my biggest inspirations; the way she holds space so graciously and welcomes every person into her world with open arms, her attention to melody and the way she lyrically constructs stories laced full of heart is everything. The next song she performed, 'Roses,' was a perfect example of this; the latest feature track from her Positive Spin + album. Her stage presence was all cloaked in sunshine as she dedicated it to that heartfelt hope we connect to the spaces and places we feel ourselves growing the most.


Dressed in a flowing pink and yellow number perfectly complimented by the stage lighting, she looked almost like a flower herself, in her absolute element and blooming from the stage as she led us through an elated dance session in 'You've already won.' After crouching down with the entire crowd through the bridge and bursting into dance as the final chorus erupted, you felt yourself overcome with one of those 'this is what life's about!' feelings!


Gretta finished up her set with a version of 'Drive,' the well-loved track that won her Triple J Unearthed High in 2016 and had every person in the room singing along, followed by a light detailing of lessons learnt in the sparkling pop-soaked track 'Don't Date The Teenager.' A set that that lit up the room and left every audience member longing for more like a ray of sunlight in winter.


 

I'd not heard of the second opener, Dylan, before that fateful Tuesday, but I can solemnly confirm that within the first three seconds of her first song I was a converted fan to the core. An explosive stage presence, powerhouse musicality and insane vocal control left you without a doubt that this woman was made for the stage.


An eruptive rendition of 'No Romeo' stood out, unveiling rock chick badass energy and a voice that felt like it came straight out of a greatest hits record. A proper rockstar, we were blessed to witness Dylan shredding guitar solos back to back with her band. As she leant her way onto the floor of the stage to finalise the solo in a flare of passion, it was indisputably clear she was having a ball and it was deliciously infectious, leaving us all with dropped jaws and smiling ear to ear.


Dressed in an all black pantsuit, with hair slicked back in a double ponytail and wielding a glistening red guitar, there was simply no denying she was serving hot-girl realness and man did she know how to work that stage.


Inviting us into the story behind 'You're Not Harry Styles,' Dylan told us about her ex who'd looked a little like Harry Styles, but quite frankly wasn't deserving of her time, before proceeding to dance her way across the stage and into our hearts, with a track that has barely left my mind since.


Another stand out had to be 'Alibi,' confessed to be the first love-song she'd ever written (mixed in 'with a little bitta crime' as she described it in her endearingly English accent). With it's irresistably catchy hook, it was one of those tracks that you felt like you'd always known by the second chorus.


Whilst she'd begun her set by announcing it was her first proper show in Australia, by the time she left the stage there was no doubt that Dylan would have to book a tour back ASAP, because she'd just secured an entire hall full of hard and fast fans.


 

It was time. The Good Witch herself was about to cast her spell across us and boy we were ready.



Seconds before she came onstage, P!nk's 'So What,' set the scene - perhaps a clever little allusion to the fact that she too was playing that very night mere kilometres away, perhaps the perfect track to rile up the feminine rage that runs delightfully rife through Maisie's songs, readying us for our Good Witch's entry.


From the moment she stepped out on stage, Maisie had the entire room at her fingertips, jumping and clapping in unison as she burst into starting on a high with her rock girly anthem 'Coming of Age.' Dressed in the cutest red gingham dress and sporting her signature bleached blonde look (perfect for flicking across her shoulder as she sang her lil heart out in every note), she was giving Barbie from the 60's and looked every bit the popstar she is!


With her beautiful wooden guitar slung across her chest, she paid homage to the indie folk world she grew from, crafting the space into an intimate acoustic singalong with her renditions of 'Body Better' and 'Love him I don't.'


In between tracks, Maisie confessed her love for Australia, namely orientated around a love for Tim Tams, boys who surf and, most notably, the word 'naur.' She never missed a moment to refer to us as Brisbane, and hearts melted as she declared to us that Australia is her favourite place to play, before avowing,


"This feels like my homecoming show.
This feels like my hometown - Brisbane is my hometown!"

To hear that our beautiful little home is just as special to our favourite popstar as she is to us was a pretty special moment.


This was by no means the only moment she indulged the crowd with her personal interactions, leaving fans feeling we knew her just as well as one of the girlies. Prior to launching into 'The Man,' she knelt down to give the mic to a front-row fan, exchanging exclamations of being obsessed with one another and acting like old time besties, before 'casting a spell over her ex' by dedicating the song to her!


Self proclaiming she sees herself as a big-sister of sorts, 'Wendy' was introduced with the advice that if this song ever reminded us of our boyfriends - to break up with him immediately!!



'John Hughes Movie' was another moment worth mentioning, introduced as particularly special to Maisie and written at only 17; all high school heartbeats and nostalgia, it was an anthem as classic as the movies it was written about.


This was followed up by a series of fan-favourite songs that she had crafted into a compilation, which she confessed felt she ought to do so that she could still play the songs that were special to almost everyone in the room, but with lightheartedly begrudging consideration for the boyfriends and the dad's. This commenced with the first song she'd ever released, 'Place we were Made,' a personal highlight moment for me. Coated with all the magic of youth and soaked in a sense of home, this song is one of the reasons I started writing myself, and hearing it live was a moment I'll never forget.


The medley then moved through soft renditions of 'Want you Back,' a tribute to Noah Kahan's 'Stick Season,' and a version of 'Brooklyn' with the lyrics swapped out to 'Brisbane' that left every collection of best friends holding hands and singing into each others arms. The medley closed out with 'You signed up for this,' and by that point I don't think there was a single dry eye in the room.


'Yoko' was entrenched in all the lyrical mastery and wisdom around women being misunderstood by the media, and in 'Holy Revival' Maisie split the crowd into half for a call and response choir that had us singing our hearts out.


The band was introduced in 'The Band and I,' with Jack on drums, Joel on guitar and Tina carrying the keys (clearly identifiable as the fan-fav through the strength of the cheer). It was evident just how much the band meant to one another as Maisie joined them up on the stand; with the exultation of what they were achieving together and the connection between them just as contagious as it was virtually tangible.


By 'BSC' and 'Blonde,' the crowd was a screaming sea of exultation, and I think Maisie's mastery as an artist deserves incredible credit, the way she so effortlessly moved between acoustically intimate singalongs and feral-girl rock bangers.


'There it goes' was one of my all-time personal highlights, introduced with the premise of saying goodbye to anything you don't want in your life. It's light at the end of the tunnel/coming of age essence and the way it interwove deep into my memories pulled at all the right heartstrings and left me sobbing. That's the kind of effect Maisie has on us; her writing and presence has the capacity to invoke not only a tear or two, but to frame the soundtrack to our lives and give us a way to make sense of everything we need to feel.


After a feigned conclusion with 'Cate's Brother', the crowd was left chanting fervently for an encore like the Good Witches we were. And man were we in for luck!



The encore song choice of 'History of Man' was one of those unforgettable moments that will stay with me for always. Re-joined by Gretta and Dylan, it was a celebration of all things girlhood, a unification in womankind and feminine strength. As her top-streaming song, you best believe every single person screamed along to every single word of the lyrical masterpiece that it is from the depths of their souls. As Gretta and Dylan shared a mic at the close of the final chorus, you could almost feel every woman who had come before you standing with us in that hall, singing along together.


The night closed out with one last ecstatic anthem, 'Lost the Breakup,' before Maisie left the stage to endlessly echoing cheers of nearly-lost voices, with all the grace of the incredible popstar she is.


Back at the start of her show, Maisie Peters made the grand declaration that this was about to be one of the best nights of our lives. And you know what? There really must have been some magic hidden in the incantations of The Good Witch, because I can wholeheartedly confirm on behalf of everyone in attendance that it was all that and more. I can't wait for what's next, because our Good Witch has enchanted Brisbane, and I think she just might take over the world.

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