Review: Taylor Swift gives a master class in pop ambition

Taylor Swift stood on stage at State Farm Stadium, lights bouncing off her dazzling leotard, and absorbed the sounds of the 70,000 or so fans in front of her.

“I don’t know how to process all of this and the way it’s making me feel right now,” she said. “I can’t even tell you how much I’ve missed you because there’s no way to verbalize it.”

what swift can put into words Friday night as she kicked off the Eras tour — her first roadshow since the start of the pandemic in 2018, featuring four different studio albums (and re-recorded takes of two old LPs) version) since its release – that was how the whole thing would go. “Tonight we’re going on an adventure,” she told the audience. “We’re going to be exploring the last 17 years of music that I’ve been lucky enough to make and you’ve been kind enough to care.”

Who, well, sure—tours for famous and beloved pop artists work like that. And yet the show actually felt like a novel experience, with 44 songs from all 10 of Swift’s studio albums parceled out into separate chapters in three hours and 15 minutes. Each section had its own costume and color scheme: a bright pink leotard (and matching boots) for 2019’s “Lover,” for example, and a bouncy ballgown for 2010’s fairy-tale-obsessed “Speak Now.” For part of the concert dedicated to “Red,” the 2012 breakthrough smash that catapulted her to superstardom, Swift, 33, wore a version of her T-shirt from her “22” music video, only instead of reading ” There’s not a lot going on at the moment,” it read, “There’s a lot going on at the moment”—a subtle but meaningful tweak meant to flatter the attentiveness of the many eagle-eyed Swifties in the house.

A woman plays the piano on a stage covered in grass

At its best, Friday’s show complicated the emotional unbolting involved in performing a great pop song.

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

In fact, Friday’s production began as a whole and elaborate kind of fan service. Swift told the crowd at one point, “I’ve had a long time trying to tell you how much I’ve missed you and how glad I am to see you.” So intense was the feeling of demand that Ticketmaster crashed when tickets for the 52-date tour went on sale last fall. (Swift is scheduled to end the tour in August with a five-night stand at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium.)

But the concert was also a showcase of the range and versatility that have made Swift the most successful singer-songwriter in an era defined by hip-hop. She offered yearning acoustic ballads like “Lover” and “Enchanted”, her voice high and soulful; She satirized through sarcastic electro-pop tracks such as “Look What You Made Me Do,” “You Need to Calm Down” and “The Man,” a sly commentary on restrictive gender roles designed to appear Was played on the set. an office.

Accompanied by a band that included four backing vocalists, she delved into the intricate bedroom-folk sounds of her twin Pandemic LPs, “Folklore” and “Evermore,” singing “Invisible Strings” from atop a mock-up of a mossy woodland cabin. Was staying Surrounded by dancers, she went big and shiny for the one-two punch of “We’re Never Ever Getting Back Together” in “I Knew You Were Trouble,” then even bigger and brighter for the section of the show devoted to “1989.” Got shiny. “Midnights”, which broke several sales and streaming records when it came out in October, featured Swift in one of the longest sequences of the night, including “Lavender Haze,” “Midnight Rain.” and the Hot 100-topping “Anti-Hero”; in each he smacked the edges of his voice, using it as much for texture as for narrative.

A woman sings and plays acoustic guitar on stage

Swift’s Eras Tour will end in August with five shows at Sophie Stadium.

(John Shearer / Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

Her photo-album approach essentially played to the nostalgia of viewers who grew up with Swift. “Ready to go back to high school with me?” she asked before a sweet rendition of “You Belong With Me” from 2008’s “Fearless” — one of the early LPs she’s remade recently in a shrewd campaign to reap the financial rewards of music owned by Has changed many times. Later, she went even further down in history for Lover “Tim McGraw,” her debut single as a teen country phenom, which she performed here on an upright piano painted with flowers. (The piano was on a small secondary stage at the end of a runway that jutted out onto the stadium floor, where Swift also performed an unplugged-style take on “Mirrorball,” which she said would be a different song each night of the tour.) )

At its best, however, Friday’s show complicated the emotional unspoken involved in performing a great pop song. The highlight of the concert came almost exactly midway through Swift’s epic 10-minute version of the song “All Too Well,” which arrived on the 2021 rerecording of “Red.” On the album, “All Too Well” looks carefully through the wreckage of a young romantic relationship with a few years of wisdom. Yet here on stage, strumming an acoustic guitar while wearing a glittery floor-length robe that gave her an almost magical vibe, she made the song a kind of treatise on youth – allowing herself to buy into the illusion. It is the pursuit of happiness that never lasts.

Talk about a lot going on this time: He promised to travel back through his past and instead unravels it.

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