Last Friday Maisie Peters hit the road to begin her highly anticipated UK headline tour. This is off the back of a successful run supporting Ed Sheeran in Europe but also further afield in Australia and New Zealand. For fans of Peters, this tour has been long awaited. Although Peters embarked on a brief debut album UK tour in 2021, concerns about Covid-19 meant that many, including myself, missed out on the opportunity. Her current sold-out dates offer a rare chance to see Peters in venues that she is likely to never play the likes of again, given her exponential growth and Wembley dates announced for the end of the year. We headed down to Sheffield on Tuesday to see her play the Leadmill. With some beginning to queue as early as 12pm, we joined at 6pm, an hour and a half before doors, to ensure we got a good spot.
For support, Peters was joined by her best friend and housemate Cate Canning, an upcoming Canadian pop star who released her debut EP Tell Me Things You Won’t Take Back in October last year. Her setlist comprised a mix of songs from this EP, some of her earlier music, including the demo Can’t Wait to Be Pretty and her most recent release, Get Better. Shaking things up towards the latter half of her set she performed a rendition of Hannah Montana’s Rockstar, getting the audience so excited that Peters was spotted sticking her head round the curtain to watch. It was clear that this performance successfully catered to both Canning’s and the audience's childhood Hannah Montana obsessions.
Soon enough, it was time for Peters to hit the stage, queued by the playing of One Direction’s Best Song Ever, which has become synonymous with the start of her shows. However, with this tour, Peters enhanced her entrance, with pink and purple lights alongside a pre-recorded speech to the sound of birdsong. It read:
‘I wanna start by saying welcome home and thank you for coming to spend your night here with me. Whatever you’ve been feeling, whoever is on your mind right now, tonight for the next hour or so it’s only us in this room. This is heartbreak and this is witchcraft and I hope you’re ready to be truly, deeply hysterical and emotional and unhinged and unstable with me here tonight. Now let’s begin.’
For me, this speech captures everything that has made Peters so popular and successful: her emphasis on the open, unapologetic expression of emotion, particularly female rage. Confronting misogynistic stereotypes face on, Peters has not shied away from the concept of the bitter, scorned female songwriter. Instead she embraces it, with lyrics such as ‘Nothing more frightening than a woman scorned’ and ‘I might be bitter and twisted and broken and petty and lying’. The reimagination of the hysterical woman through a celebratory lens is precisely what has allowed Peters to take full advantage of the public platform that Sheeran has offered her over the past year.
After opening with the lead single Body Better from her upcoming album The Good Witch, Peters worked through her first album. She accompanied this with fond memories, as it accompanied her on her first tour of the US, as well as her tour with Sheeran. She referred to her current tour as ‘sort of a victory lap for You Signed Up For This.’ The album, unlike her first producing viral hits, is very much a representation of 20-21 year-old Peters, pre-fame and the self-confidence that comes with it. This difference was highlighted by the performance of Cate’s Brother, which is dubbed by Peters as ‘a joke gone too far’. The song details an imagined affair between Peters and Cate Canning’s brother. Taking advantage of her presence, Peters invited Canning back out to sing her own verse which included the lyrics ‘yeah don’t get me wrong I love my brother but Maisie he’s kind of smelly’. The playfulness of a choreographed dance and the comedic elements exhibited a genuine friendship, but also Peters ability to not take herself too seriously. A trait that has definitely aided her rise to fame, both in real life and on TikTok.
The second song to demonstrate Peters’s growth, You’re Just A Boy (And I’m Kinda The Man), provided a sneak peak of the 7th track on her upcoming album. Taking to social media, Peters said: ‘this song is one I absolutely could not have written as a teenager – there’s too much self respect in it quite frankly lol.’ Functioning in many ways as a sequel to the song Boy, it was refreshing to hear Peters perform with a focus on her own success and self-worth in comparison to her tendency to debase those who have done her wrong.
Peters then returned to performing more of her debut album before moving on to what she dubbed her ‘traumatising mashup’ consisting of; Glowing Review, Volcano, Good Enough and a cover of Dear John. Concluding on a high note, Peters made sure to incorporate her recent pop-rock singles, Not Another Rockstar, Lost the Breakup and Blonde. During these performances Peters remarked that ‘the irony is Sheffield, who’s the rockstar now?’, another vivid reminder of the rarity and privilege of witnessing Peters perform in such a small venue. By the end of the show, it was easy to understand why supporting Ed Sheeran has been so beneficial to her career: Peters’s energy is magnetic and her talent undeniable, making her performances almost addictive. In fact, eager for another chance to relive the experience, the first thing I did upon leaving was to book tickets to Wembley.
Words: Sophie Fennelly