Moments after taking the stage to greet a sold-out crowd, Taylor Swift paused mid-song to flash a genuine, awe-struck smile before a galaxy of glow sticks. Then, just as quickly, her gaze shifted into that sly, signature sideways glance - a demure grin proving the songstress knows she's kind of a big deal.
Moments after taking the stage to greet a sold-out crowd, Taylor Swift paused mid-song to flash a genuine, awe-struck smile before a galaxy of glow sticks.
Then, just as quickly, her gaze shifted into that sly, signature sideways glance — a demure grin proving the songstress knows she’s kind of a big deal.
Smile. Glance. Smile. Glance.
The two sides of Swift were in full force last night in Nationwide Arena, where the 23-year-old country-pop juggernaut showcased an ambitious stage show — replete with stilt-walkers, flag-twirlers, break-dancers and Blue Man Group-style drumming — but also maintained an intimate, diary-style dialogue that has resonated with millions of listeners.
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“I write songs about my feelings,” said the singer, in an obvious disclosure that, according to reviews of other recent shows, was verbatim banter (but, really, who’s checking?) “I’m told I have a lot of feelings.”
From crushes and breakups to bullies — which exist even in adulthood, Swift said — the artist never broke a sweat.
She ably worked a circular catwalk, touching myriad hands and, at times, playing a sparkling red guitar. She fronted a girl group with her backup singers for a Motown-light rendition of You Belong With Me. Gothic costumes gladly clashed with the dubstep beats of I Knew You Were Trouble while the independence anthem We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was staged with the same Alice in Wonderland attire seen at the Grammy Awards in February.
Swift even stage-dived (into the arms of her dancers, not onlookers).
The country tunes that first made the wunderkind famous were less prominent than selections from Swift’s latest album, Red, which offers a pop-rock side — and, she clarified, “the crazy emotions that make you stronger.”
Swift flubbed a note while seated at a red grand piano during the ballad All Too Well, but shrugged it off with that aforementioned grin. Following a duet with opener Ed Sheeran, the performer soared over the crowd on a suspended platform.
Her singing was strong but often overshadowed by screams, which the star didn’t seem to mind.
Critics have chided Swift for weak vocals or instrumentation (or, in Kanye West’s infamous 2009 MTV Video Music Awards ambush, for not having “the best video of all time”) but she ably outdid the haters.
And, for all of the night’s bombast, it wasn’t hard to look beyond the artist’s publicized string of celebrity romances and multimillion-dollar real-estate transactions and see a young woman no different than the thousands in attendance — one who, amid the pounding Holy Ground, twirled about as if she were alone in her bedroom or, as seen during Our Song, played a solo acoustic tune originally penned for her ninth-grade talent show.
Swift can’t forever assume the role of doe-eyed innocent, but it’s easy to assume she’ll grow old with excitable fans that would go wild after even a simple, sincere verbal exchange that seemed superfluous for a gig of this size: “Hi, I’m Taylor. It’s nice to meet you.”