Taylor Swift review: Pop’s hardest-working star gives her all to the Eras tour

By Friday afternoon, there was a new destination in Arizona: Swift City, with a population of 70,000 fans in town for the first stop on the Eras of Taylor Swift tour, and designated by some of them on Google Maps as a venue. cult. “Welcome to ERAzona,” the 33-year-old pop star’s publicist emailed me hours before the show, referring to one of the hashtags Swifties developed to tag her arrival to what was announced, and delivered, as a expansive celebration of his undeniably prolific catalogue. The Swift team is, as always, in tune with the online conversation around them; You can’t consume Taylor Swift music without immersing yourself (or immersing yourself in) Taylor Swift content. This is an artist who, as some have argued, has come closer than Mark Zuckerberg to building a true metaverse and cultivated a famously chatty and close virtual relationship with her fans.

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Those fans flocked Friday night in Glendale, appropriately for the basis of her popularity, a suburb about the same distance from Phoenix as Hendersonville, the Tennessee city where Swift attended her freshman year of high school, is from Nashville, home to the country music industry that shaped his early career. Mostly gay women and men (along with some nice sporty boyfriends/husbands) dressed in the instantly recognizable iconography of her 10 albums: Reputation-era black leotards, Lover-era pastels, mockups of her 2021 Folklore Grammy dress, diamonds an imitation. ornate jumpsuits in the style of the Bejeweled music video, and at least two men in “sexy babe” T-shirts (see: Antihero).

From the outside, such intensity, courted by Swift with notorious and rewarding Easter eggs, can make the eyes roll. But when viewed from inside the Swiftverse, in a deafening stadium that she comfortably commanded for over three hours, it’s thrilling, especially for those who have grown up with her 17 years of diarist music, and particularly white women from the suburbs. for whom Swift is the star. most famous avatar

The Eras tour, as a show, is arguably the best stage for fan service. Those who battled Ticketmaster and won were rewarded with a staggering set list of 44 songs (about twice as many as their previous shows), a few second verses cut but no mixes, lasting for the length of the movie Titanic (three hours). and 12 minutes). ). It was a productivity flex like no other: Since her last tour in 2018, Swift has released four original albums (or, as she put it, “we’re adding four new members to the family” with Lover, Folklore, Evermore and Midnights) plus two album re-recordings. And she was substantially immersed in all of them. Album by album (or era by era) in color-blocked, outfit-outlined segments (including two sparkly outfits, a ball gown, two ethereal dresses, a one-legged snake outfit, and the outfit from music video 22) , Swift packed more than many TikTok speculators thought possible into a single show, with almost no interruptions and seemingly endless resistance.

The production was more of a Broadway extravaganza than a singular concert: multiple set changes, from a moss-covered folklore cottage to a high-rise office for The Man; a phalanx of backup dancers and four chorus girls; Color-synchronized bracelets for each audience member timed with the full array of stadium lights. The T-shaped stage with rising platforms provided each floor area with ample opportunities to ogle and photograph; the imagery (not subtle, as is her style) and staging culled from her music videos echoed off a giant curved screen behind her. Except for a few numbers, it was a less choreographed routine than the Reputation tour (a good thing), plus a rousing performance by Swift of every single one of her songs, as if engaging in a very serious karaoke battle with every single one of her fans yelling for 44 songs in a row. (I mean that in the best way: her commitment to every bit of her didn’t waver.)

There wasn’t time for much banter in between, though she made sure to cover the bases: gratitude for the crowd (“I don’t know how to process all of this and how it makes me feel”), cheeky crowd-pleasing lines (“I love explaining to men how to apologize”), a nod to criticism of Woodsy Evermore (“an album I absolutely love despite what some of you say on TikTok”). In that sense, the scale of the production made the earthy, whispery numbers on Folklore and Evermore (five and seven songs live, respectively), work somewhat for a stadium (it helped to get the crowd singing, as with almost every numbers, almost as loud as his voice).

There were a few sound issues, which seems less like a touring or performance issue than the challenge of projecting sound to a stadium full of 70,000 people screaming at the top of their lungs. When selecting the heavier, harsher, more synthetic numbers (i.e. anything other than Folklore or Evermore but especially Reputation, 1989 and Red), it could be difficult to hear her pronounce, or just pick up the texture within the wall of cathartic sound. At one point, the volume on his microphone seemed to rise and fall wildly.

The best demonstrations of her vocal abilities, then, were when she returned to her roots: a woman and an instrument, as on the acoustic versions of Mirrorball and her first single, Tim McGraw. And, most effectively, on the 10-minute version of All Too Well, the crown jewel in his songwriting catalog and the emotional high point of the night, a number that commanded from silence to the skin-inducing crescendo of chicken and back with the guitar pick in hand.

Or, at least, my emotional high point. Pick any fan in the stadium and they’ll probably name another song, maybe one they haven’t even sung (sorry Speak Now fans, who got a song), as their favorite. For the scope of the songs and devotion to the lyrics, no artist can match her, a point she’s trampled on, from Miss Americana to the aptly titled Mastermind (with a dose of Karma at the end), in an undeniably epic start to the was eras .

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