Maggie Rogers – KOKO, London – 29th August 2018

Photo by Jamie MacMillan

Sometimes a pop star comes along so fully formed, so undeniably perfect at that moment in time, that it feels pre-ordained. Dua Lipa was one, and Sigrid another. Now, so it is with Maggie Rogers, a name that may currently be unfamiliar to some, but one that is certain to dwarf many other current front-runners. On the first of two sold out shows at London’s famous KOKO venue, she shows exactly why she is about to inherit the pop throne.

With every face at the multi-floored venue intently watching her, there is an intense anticipation to the evening as she takes to the stage. Yet to release her debut album (“Soon, I promise!she says at one point), every mouth in the room still sings along with her every word to the openers ‘On + Off’ and ‘Split Stones’. Effortlessly charming in how grounded she is, Rogers has the crowd eating out of her hand as she introduces each song. ‘Burning’ is introduced with the explanation that it was about a big crush that she had once had, but that she was forced to play it for years as “I only had five songs back then”.

As well as the charm and clever dance production effects, she also possesses a voice stunning in its clarity and purity. With more than a hint of Lucy Rose as she hits the high notes on ‘Dog Years’, the roar from the crowd turns into a fierce ovation that lasts for minutes. Obviously stunned, she turns to face her band as if to ask “What do we do now?”

The next single ‘Let The Light In’ is disarmingly introduced with a frank admission that although all of her dreams have come true, she still feels uncomfortable and overwhelmed at times. It is this honesty and openness that endears her to her fans and, alongside Sigrid, marks her out as the star that will surely come to define pop music for the next decade or so.

‘Give A Little’ follows in all of its pop-banger-of-the-highest-order glory, before ‘Back In My Body’ results in another crowd response that obviously leaves her lost for words. ‘Fallingwater’ is the kind of track that leaves couples locked in embrace around the room, before an encore that is stunning in its execution.

“I’ve never performed this a capella before” is the nervous intro to what becomes one of the most breathtaking moments seen all year. ‘Color Song’ is a beautifully evocative track, and as she sings alone on stage the entire room descends into silence. At points even moving her mic away to sing completely free of any amplification, it was heartachingly gorgeous in its simplicity. The only way that it can be followed is, of course, ‘Alaska’ – the track that began her journey into the hearts of the world when it went viral (with a little help from Pharrell Williams’ appreciation). Tonight, it is simply the cherry on a cake packed with sweetness.

Clear the top table of pop, and make room. Maggie’s coming, and when that album arrives she is going to take over everything.

Jamie MacMillan

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