Maisie Peters
Photo: Michael Bialas

Marvelous Miss Maisie Peters Lets Love Grow During Denver Show of Emotion

Using her music to address the distressing nature of relationships gone awry, British pop singer Maisie Peters brings a collection of eloquently frank songs to life during her first headlining tour of North America.

You Signed Up for This
Maisie Peters
Gingerbread Man Records
27 August 2021

Oh, to be young and in (or out) of love again. And two days after spring had officially sprung, leave it to fresh-as-a-daisy Maisie Peters to pull the emotional heartstrings with mixed feelings of yearning, churning warmth, affection, affliction, angst, and anger during a sold-out show at the Bluebird Theater in Denver.

The 21-year-old British pop singing-songwriting sensation brought high energy, infectious, candy-coated tunes, a fierce grrrl power perspective, and her vibrant three-piece backing band to the 22 March proceedings, reeling off 16 songs in less than 60 minutes. The audience that skewed youthful, participatory, and notably female loved every second of it, bursting at the seams to welcome the Marvelous Miss Maisie for her first Denver appearance on a monthlong North American tour. 

After Jonah Kagen’s quietly effective 30-minute acoustic opening with two bandmates stirred the pot just enough, the crowd kicked it up a notch with their a cappella rendition of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” before Peters even reached the stage. Starting with the title cut and three more from You Signed Up for This Peters’ 2021 debut full-length album — she paved the way for the crowd’s boisterous singalongs following the recorded introduction from Ferris Bueller‘s Day Off‘s “Life moves pretty fast” scene. 

Jonah Kagen
Photo: Michael Bialas

That swell didn’t let up as the vivacious, soaring songbird whirled and twirled back and forth across the stage while keeping her cool and playing it smart. Early on, she covered her recently dyed platinum blonde locks with a cowboy hat, perhaps to signify this initial Western swing date during her first headlining run through North America. At five-foot-one, as she attests in the title cut that kicked off the show, the petite Peters is standing tall as the sellouts stack up before the April Fools’ Day grand finale, the second of two full-house nights at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre

That’s a long way from teen-busking on the streets of Brighton, a town on the south coast of England where she grew up with twin sister Ellen, about a two-hour drive to London. Their sweet sibling bond is evident in YouTube videos, including the one Maisie (who sometimes calls herself Mazzie) made for her song “Brooklyn”, a fond remembrance of a New York trip they took together as 19-year-olds. 

The nice change-of-pace YSUFT song, among 11 from the 14-track album that dominated her setlist, was as appealing as the group’s attire. Wearing black leather pants and a “Cherry Love” tank top while seemingly reveling in a radiant glow created by the crowd’s reaction, Peters wasted little time before addressing them with a compliment — “You’re so attractive, all of you.” 

Grabbing an acoustic guitar for the wistful, vividly descriptive “Outdoor Pool”, the fourth YSUFT number in a row to start the show, she broke the streak with the 2017 single “Place We Were Made”, a warm and fuzzy toast to small-town halcyon days. Informing the audience that the soft ballad was “the first song I ever wrote,” her comment — like many others — was met with whoops, hollers and cheers. 

Maisie Peters
Photos: Michael Bialas
Maisie Peters

While the crowd-making clamor barely died down throughout a night of Maisie-mania, there were moments of earnest reflection onstage. Peters mindfully navigated a through-line of her material filled with relationship troubles, bittersweet memories, and downright despair. Almost anyone in attendance could identify with the joy and sorrow that a mutual attraction can mean, whether it involves love-at-first-sight besties, happily married (and very lucky) couples, woeful wanderers still searching for that one true thing, or shattered souls struggling to recover from a series of breakups. 

Admittedly past my prime in the courtship department, I’m thrilled to have been one-half of a thriving, enduring relationship with my childhood sweetheart that has survived the test of time. Yet I still remember, appreciate — and can relate to — the happiness and hardships associated with young, awkward love. 

A Hulu 12-episode limited series I recently saw that deftly adapted Sally Rooney’s 2018 novel, Normal People captured some of those moving experiences. The story of an Irish couple (brilliantly played by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal) weaving through a series of sexual encounters and vicious splits since high school might be the best, most realistic expression of YA entanglement on TV in recent years. If there’s a musical equivalent, count on Peters to convey those thoughts — from igniting a romantic flame to dousing some sad, flickering hopes — in much the same way. 

Collaborating with a number of producers — primarily Joe Rubel — on You Signed Up for This along with other co-writers — including the esteemed Ed Sheeran — Maisie Hannah Peters gets brutally personal about herself and the objects of her affection. 

A DIY approach at the beginning of her career led to some success on YouTube, then a notable signing in 2018 with Atlantic Records. Making two EPs — 2018’s Dressed Too Nice for a Jacket, 2019’s It’s Your Bed Babe, It’s Your Funeralcatapulted her to record soundtrack songs (“Smile” for Birds of Prey) and albums (Trying: Season 2 for Apple TV+). 

When Peters was snagged by Sheeran’s Gingerbread Man Records in June 2021, he praised her addition by saying, “She’s a very special artist who continues to push her storytelling in new directions.” Her first project for the label was the August release of You Signed Up for This. Expect more songs in the near future. As she said in a recent Houston Press interview, “I really want to put some more out as soon as possible. You know, I dyed my hair, I really have to follow it up with music, otherwise, what’s the point?” 

Maisie Peters
Photos: Michael Bialas
Maisie Peters

Some of the best songs on this night — all from the album — were filled with biting wit, including: “Psycho” — “You made me feel so useful then so used / I feel like you feel nothing, that’s fine”; “I’m Trying (Not Friends)”, driven by a snappy percussive beat — “I’m the baby but I’m gonna be the bigger man babe”; and “Volcano” — “She tries to get closer, so you go and ghost her like it’s perpetual Halloween.”

Almost halfway through the setlist, Peters got members of the audience involved in her whack-a-mole act. 

Following “Love Him I Don’t” (which opens with “I could see a bloodbath coming”), she delivers the inevitable, highly anticipated question: “Who’s had their heart broken?” And the cheers from volunteers ring out. Saying hello to a fan at the foot of the stage named Cassie, she asks, “What happened?” then announces, “Cassie was taken aback” by a guy. After prompting Cassie — “Are you a goddess or are you not?” — and encouraging the crowd to chant, “Say his name, say his name, say his name,” Peters comes to the conclusion that, “Chad was a Capricorn, and I’m guessing a bit of a prick.” 

What followed is apparently a custom during other stops on the tour that began in Minneapolis on 1 March. Peters flips the double bird while needing no help to end this virtual vendetta after a request — “On the count of three, say ‘Fuck Chad.'” With the deed done, she pleasantly offers, “This song is for you, sweet Cassie,” to segue into “Sad Girl Summer.”

The 2020 single — perhaps the antithesis of Megan Thee Stallion’s 2019 “Hot Girl Summer” — was one of the show’s few numbers not from You Signed Up for This. It was soon followed by a work-in-progress tidbit during what the setlist labeled “Maisie’s SOLO Acoustic”. Band members Joel Peat (guitar), Christina “Tina” Hizon (keyboards, backing vocals), and Jack Geary (drums) exited the stage to give Peters some alone time with a swarming but courteous crowd that numbered around the capacity of 500, according to a Bluebird employee. 

Granting a birthday request from a young woman leaving her teens — “she’s literally 20 and upset” — Peters strummed her guitar while performing the engaging “Talking to Strangers” after admitting, “I have literally not played that since I wrote it, so that’s fun.” 

Maisie Peters
Photos: Michael Bialas

Ever the adventurer, she even tried a couple of cute verses from “Cate’s Brother”, an unreleased song that was unfinished when she sang it for her close friend for the first time on TikTok on 25 February. That one went viral, but the live version was cut short with laughter and her saying, “That’s all I have for today. But do you know what will make you feel better about that? Another song.” (Hear the completed version of “Cate’s Brother” that Peters just shared on 25 March.) 

That feels like a ray of sunshine beaming into Peters’ relationship life as she gets set to head back across the pond as Sheeran’s opening act on a UK/European tour starting for her in Dublin on 23 April, and including five shows at Wembley Stadium in London, just up the road from her stomping grounds. 

Maybe she’ll be even more amazed by a home-field advantage pollinated for Maisie’s Daisies, the nickname adopted by fans new and old, female and male in a vote on her Twitter account a year ago. Meanwhile, she’s able to flourish while writing about men behaving badly on songs like the volatile “Villain” (accompanied in Denver by a 2 1/2-minute account of a harrowing but humorous experience involving a London fire escape, her high school ex, and the mischievous British bandmate also known as “Tina Keys”). 

Realizing life isn’t like a “John Hughes Movie” (where “the girl gets the guy” is just a hopeless notion), this catchy yet poignant song (featuring her shred- and head-banging antics on electric guitar at the Bluebird) remains the one and only encore so far on this 2022 tour. No matter what it takes, Peters seems determined to finish strong. Even the growing optimism she embraces with a Ferris Bueller opening gets topped this night by house-clearing music with a universal theme — “All You Need Is Love”. Is a clear message being sent?

Let’s wait and see what Peters does next. This Mazzie Star just might go her own way to find that ultimate happy place — right where she belongs.

Maisie Peters
Photo: Michael Bialas

SETLIST: Bluebird Theater, Denver, 22 March 2022

1. “You Signed Up for This”
2. “Psycho”
3. “Boy”
4. “Outdoor Pool”
5. “Place We Were Made”
6. “Love Him I Don’t”
7. “Sad Girl Summer”
8. “I’m Trying (Not Friends)”
9. “Talking to Strangers”
10. “Cate’s Brother” (unfinished excerpt)
11. “Volcano”
12. “Brooklyn”
13. “Favorite Ex”
14. “Villain”
15. “Worst of You”
“John Hughes Movie”