So-Fi So Good for Taylor Swift: Not a single piece of the reporting you’ve heard about Taylor Swift’s Eras tour is exaggerated. Not a tiny little bit. This thing is enormous. Like, insanely big, and a phenomenon. And every single attendee (including this one) is here for the party. Not in a tailgate, beer-chugga-chugga sort of way. But in a genuine, love for the music, human connection, sort of way.
That’s what Swift is all about. She connects with her fans on a deeply personal level. The sort of connection that all artists hope to establish with their target audience. And despite the fact that this writer is not a part of that demographic, empathy is possible for all but sociopaths.
So friendship bands are passed around by nearly everyone on the way in. The parking attendants had arms full of them. It’s a love-in. It’s contemporary Coachella and the Super Bowl halftime show without the dust and sports fans. The range of generations in attendance (and not just parents being dragged along) is actually quite surprising. And Swift’s messages of equality and inclusivity mean that everyone feels welcome. Frankly, it’s impossible not to enjoy something so fundamentally good, on such a large scale. Go ahead, be an edgy cynic. See where that gets ya.
Gayle had the honor of opening the show on Saturday night, and her set was full of pop-rock spunk, joy and just a touch of angry energy. The cover of Alanis Morissette’s You Oughtta Know was blessed with the sort of spit and venom that the lyrics require. But her own songs sounded better. The crowd lapped it up.
Her set was short and sweet, and before long sibling group Haim were keeping the good vibes rolling. The hometown band were clearly determined to make the most of the chance to perform in front of this many enthusiastic people, and they did.
Live, Haim rocks harder than on record — there are flourishes of ’80s Heart, Pat Benatar and even Joan Jett about their super catchy power-pop. They recently headlined some shows at the brand new Bellwether venue but it’s hard to imagine they had a better time than this.
Throughout it all, when Gayle or the members of Haim mentioned Taylor’s name, perhaps deftly in passing, the screams were deafening. That proved to be prophetic, because when Swift took to the stage, 90 percent of the people in attendance lost their collective shit. Literally. People devolved into goop. We watched them melt in a sort of ritualistic, ecstasy-fueled wave.
An inspired intro tape of Lesley Gore’s classic “You Don’t Own Me” heralded the arrival of TayTay, and she appeared on stage amidst flowing sheets as if she’s part of a Cirque de Soleil fashion parade. Those deafening screams started there, and never really stopped. Not for the full three and a half hours of this monster-show.
Despite the numerous reports, not enough is being made of the fact that Swift is performing for three and a half fucking hours, every single night, night after night. It’s an incredibly impressive undertaking and one that adds some perspective when we see those videos from previous nights in other cities, when she’s playing piano in torrential rain. After five years without touring, Swift was determined to make this one count.
Obviously it’s called the Eras tour because Swift is taking us through each of her career eras, one album at a time (though not in chronological order — that would be a bit uniform). Lover is first, and the opening track is “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Kid.” Before the sold-out So-Fi crowd had come to terms with the realization that, indeed, Taylor Swift was right there in front of them, “Cruel Summer” raised the stakes.
And so it continued. We went back to the earlier days with Fearless; the pop-country of the title track, “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story” have dated remarkably well. We then jumped forward to Evermore, and a guest appearance from Haim on “No Body, No Crime.”
Throughout it all, Swift looked stunned by all the fuss she’s getting from the crowd. It’s easy to be cynical and think, ‘After all these shows and towards the end of this tour, she must be used to this by now.” But the yin to that yang is, how the hell do you ever get used to this? “This tour is the most extraordinary experience of my life,” she says from her elevated pedestal.
Reputation gives us electro-pop banger “…Ready for it?” and the gospel-tinged “Don’t Blame Me.” Swift turns Disney princess for “Enchanted” from Speak Now. And then it’s time for Red, which means the teen-pop joy of “22” and “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and the ten minute epic, hair-raising version of “All Too Well.”
We see Swift essentially melt into a pre-Raphaelite painting for the “Folklore” album, like it’s a Lynch-directed Tolkien movie. “August,” from that “era,” is a show highlight. We go back to 1989, and then right up to the current era’s Midnights, and Swift ends the night looking like she could do another three and a half hours. Which she will on Monday, and again on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Taylor Swift is arguably the biggest pop artist on the planet right now and, on this evidence, she fully deserves it.
So-Fi So Good for Taylor Swift: Go to taylorswift.com for more info.
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