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Show review: Maggie Rogers is unbridled joy on Don’t Forget Me Tour in Phoenix

She came in like a vision from the old west wind, as her lyric goes, like a bright new dream — fresh, glowing, and full of promise. 

“She,” of course, is Maggie Rogers, the supernova who’s burning more brilliantly than ever on the Don’t Forget Me Tour supporting her album of the same name. With support from The Japanese House, the tour is a can’t-miss event for the indie pop sect and gathered thousands of fans at Phoenix’s Arizona Financial Theatre on Friday night. 

Despite the size of the venue, the performance felt pleasantly intimate. The minimal production from both acts and the warmth of the crowd made the whole show cozy and comforting. That’s not to say there wasn’t maximum excitement, but the environment allowed for full expression and unbridled joy — for the fans, this meant custom merch, scream-singing, and clutching each other throughout the night during their personal favorite songs. And for the artists, it’s baring their hearts.

Amber Bain, better known as The Japanese House, showcased vulnerability with a setlist pulling mostly from In the End it Always Does, her sophomore album that highlights heartbreak and loss. Perhaps surprisingly, fans in the front row were completely familiar with the songs, singing along and taking videos to relive the night later. That is, except for unreleased track “Smiley Face,” which was a nice surprise before closing the set with “Sunshine Baby.”

This set the tone for the main event, which began with a home video style clip of Maggie Rogers herself, smiling in the sunshine. When the video cut and Rogers emerged at the top of a staircase, anyone who wasn’t already cheering was left speechless. She’s electric, whether she’s dancing back and forth across the stage during “Drunk” or sitting quietly and showing us her reworked version of “Alaska.” And when she sat at the piano — this is the first tour she’s played it on stage — you could have heard a pin drop. “Thank you for making me feel safe,” she said about the moment. 

This unlocked level of creative expression is clearly freeing for Rogers, who was all smiles and unrestricted movement and off-the-cuff commentary. And it hasn’t fully sunk in, judging by the awe on her face as she looked out at the three-level theater. Also judging by her description of her pre-soundcheck walk when she passed The Van Buren, the last venue to host her back in 2018. She said it’s so special to come back to places, especially when they’re “the complete opposite” of where she’s from, because of all the new experiences.

It’s special for the fans, too, to have her return, each time with more star power behind her. And if Friday night was any indication, another lyric of hers is perfectly suited: “Wherever you go, that’s where I am.”