Madison Beer @ O2 Academy, Glasgow, 24 Mar

Armed with a natural stage presence and brilliant voice, Madison Beer steps away from the pageantry of her early career into a spotlight of her own making

Live Review by Tara Hepburn | 27 Mar 2024
  • Madison Beer

Madison Beer’s career has been a strange mix. Propelled to stardom by a Justin Bieber endorsement over ten years ago when she was in her early teens, she has had difficulty settling on a signature sound in the years since. Sporadic releases hopped across genres, from woozy Lana Del Rey-inspired tracks to guitar-heavy singalong rock anthems, regularly returning to the bankable safety of maximalist dance pop on tracks like All For Love, BOYSHIT and Good In Goodbye (a vibe that she has revisited once again on her infectious latest single Make You Mine).

Without a sizeable body of work to call her own (a single here, an EP there), the industry seemed to be struggling to find a place for her. All the while Beer found herself catching strays for whatever the issue of the day was: body image, the TikTok-ification of pop music, Scooter Braun. Now, at 25 years old and with her first proper album under her belt (2023’s Silence Between Songs) she appears to have found her feet as an artist. It’s a record that sits firmly in a psychedelic pop space; Tame Impala’s influence is clear, as is that Lana Del Rey sound. Still, her discography is a bit all over the place, so the cohesiveness of her headline set at the O2 Academy tonight comes as a nice surprise.

Like Beer herself, the staging and lighting is wonderfully photogenic. A simple curved sunrise screen does a lot of the heavy lifting providing music-video style visuals to suit each of the songs, like the trippy intergalactic scenes and childhood footage on the poignant Ryder, a song about her younger brother.

Any sense that her brand is indistinct is further dispelled by the crowd’s commitment to Beer’s visuals: 60s babydoll dresses, ribboned bunches, slicked-back hair bows. The mostly female-crowd is giddy and well-rehearsed in the lyrics. Beer’s tendency towards confessional ballads means the set is spiked with irresistible airgrabby singalongs, which rattle the room on songs such as Selfish (“I shouldn’t love you but I couldn’t help it/ had a feeling you were too damn selfish”) and an impressively loud rendition of soporific sad song Reckless (“She must be perfect, oh well/ I hope you both go to hell”).

Likewise, the set has well-established flashes of audience participation, including the regularly viral pin-drop moment of silence on Silence Between Songs – a near perfect instant of complete quiet in the room until someone loudly shouted “shut the fuck up!” causing Beer to crumble in a fit of giggles. “Don’t apologise,” she assured them, “it was iconic” before offering her own Shreky impression of the moment. Her voice is brilliant, a detail which can sometimes be lost in the heavy production of her biggest hits, but ultimately what holds the show together is Beer’s natural stage presence and ability to be candid with her audience. Finally liberated from the varied pageantry of her early career, Madison Beer has now stepped into a spotlight of her own making, and she seems much more comfortable there.