Music Critic Eloise Howell praises Maisie Peters for transforming the O2 Academy Birmingham into a ‘coven celebrating girlhood and relishing in heartbreak’
On the 29th of September, the O2 Academy Birmingham transformed into a coven celebrating girlhood and relishing in heartbreak for Maisie Peter’s The Good Witch tour. Since last playing in Birmingham back in 2019 at the Sunflower Lounge, Peters’ career has gone from strength to strength. She has released two albums (You Signed up for This and The Good Witch) and supported Ed Sheeran for a majority of his Mathematics Tour.
Waiting in anticipation for the show to begin, I noticed, very fittingly dozens of girls with witch hats and ribbons tied in their hair. The pre-show playlist was a teenage girl’s dream, featuring an eclectic mix of songs such as ‘Holy Ground’ by Taylor Swift, ‘Tears Dry on Their Own’ by Amy Winehouse, and ‘Dreams’ by The Cranberries, all of which the crowd sung heartily along to.
The show was opened by Australian singer-songwriter, Gretta Ray. Taking to the pink-tinted stage, Ray performed several songs from her sophomore album, including ‘Positive Spin’, ‘Upgraded’, and ‘You’ve Already Won’. As someone who’s never listened to Ray’s music, the similarities between her and Peters’ music were undeniable; bittersweet lyrics underscored by glittery, high tempos.
Following Ray’s performance, big white inflatable letters, spelling out ‘The Good Witch’ were brought to stage, reminding us again that tonight, we are Maisie’s coven. Then, the lights were dimmed and Little Mix’s ‘Shoutout to My Ex’ blasted throughout the venue. Peters’ songs often focus on ex-boyfriends and breakups, so this was extremely fitting. After the first chorus, the music cut and the band took to the stage,
beginning to play the album’s title track, ‘The Good Witch’. Maisie then stepped on stage, and the crowd went wild. She skipped across the stage, bubbly and waving, before asking the audience ‘Are you ready for the best night of your life?’, and she did not disappoint.
The show’s opening provided a sense of catharsis with ‘Coming of Age’ and ‘Body Better’, two angry yet upbeat songs that challenge an ex-partner’s actions. Her presence was captivating, and the atmosphere was electric, the crowd excitedly jumping and dancing along.
Peters then switched tone. Bathed in purple light, she began to strum a song from her first album, ‘Love Him I Don’t’, a heartbreaking ballad about accepting a relationship is over. She followed this up with ‘Wendy’, before taking a moment to speak to the crowd, joking that while everyone believes she has never been to university, she is in fact a recent graduate of ‘Clown University’. Leaning forward over the crowd with a smirk, Peters reminded her audience of something that every heartbroken girl in the crowd needed to hear, “He’s just a boy!” She then launched into ‘You’re Just a Boy (And I’m Kinda the Man)’, and the room became electric. Part of Peters’ charm is the relatibility of her lyrics and the way in which the crowd
passionately sang along to this particular song displayed just how deeply her lyrics resonate with so many that enjoy her music.
The lights dim to only a spotlight on and Peters eased into a seamless mashup of ‘Two Weeks Ago’ and one of her oldest songs, ‘Worst of You’ with One Direction’s ‘Night Changes’. Her vocals shone, smooth and silky, accompanied by her acoustic guitar and occasionally the piano. Maisie then treated the crowd to one of her new songs off The Good Witch (Deluxe Edition) which was released only two days before the concert. Despite this, a large portion of the crowd sang along to ‘Yoko’, a testament to the dedicated community Peters has cultivated over the years.
From here, we throttled forward, away from the more melancholic songs from her discography and toward some of the most tonally upbeat, starting with ‘You Signed up For This’ and ‘Run’. Maisie then takes a moment to introduce us to her band; the affectionately nicknamed ‘Tina on the Keys’, her drummer Jack, and guitarist Joel, before they play ‘The Band and I’, a song where Peters expresses her gratitude for
the band and their experience of her first tour across the United States in 2021. Perhaps one of the most touching songs on the album, it’s a celebration of friendship that extends beyond the stage and into the crowd. The room becomes a sea of phone flashlights and we sway.
Once again, the crowd became a dance party for the rock-pop singles not included on the album, ‘Not Another Rockstar’ and ‘Blonde’. One of the most striking aspects of Peters’ music and her brand is the way she uses the stereotype of ‘psycho ex-girlfriend’. She doesn’t deny it, instead she manipulates, embraces, and reclaims it, all of which we have the pleasure in hearing in ‘BSC’, an acronym for Bat Sh*t Crazy. Relishing in this feeling of freedom and acceptance, Maisie takes center stage with her guitar again to sing ‘There It Goes’. And if treating us to one of her newly released songs wasn’t enough, Maisie then surprised the audience with fellow pop singer and one of her best friends, Cate, to perform their unreleased version of ‘Cate’s Brother’. The stage drenched in red light, the pair sing and skip across the stage and back. It is fun, authentic, and completely brilliant watching these two women genuinely enjoy themselves, a feeling that unfurls into across the venue.
The pair then quickly disappear from stage, the lights fading to black, but we’re not done. Following thunderous applause and chants of ‘Maisie! Maisie! Maisie’, Peters and her band returned to the stage, accompanied by Gretta Ray. The duo then performed ‘History of Man’, transforming a shared female experience into a raw, touching performance that tugged at the heartstrings of the crowd. Finally, Peters
closed the show with the catchy pop hit ‘Lost the Breakup’. With a combination of upbeat, angry, and emotionally vulnerable songs, Peters struck a beautiful balance that created a space of heartbreak and healing within the four walls of the O2 Academy. A true pop princess, Peters’ lyrics speak to the masses and energised the crowd all night. For an artist that has already reached incredible heights so early on in her career, I cannot wait to see what she does next.
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