Taylor Swift Brings Incredible Career-Spanning Spectacle To Chicago!
Review by Dennis Kelly – Photos by Scott Teresi
What a night, what a long and fun night! But Taylor Swift spent over three hours to ensure fans had the best experience possible. No disrespect intended, but the Eras Tour should be changed to the ‘Endurance Tour’ for the fans, the band, additional performers, and the crew. Her fans A.K.A., ‘Swifties’ were indeed up to the challenge, though, and it seemed like they could have spent the whole night with her in this warm and comfortable space that she created for everyone. Her fans were so devoted that they lined up as early as 1 am, Thursday morning, not to get tickets or wait for the gates to open to the show but to buy her merchandise which didn’t open until 10 am that day!
Owenn & Girl In Red:
Let’s hear it for her openers, Owenn, and Norwegian band, Girl In Red, who both commanded the attention of the already mostly full stadium. Owenn started as a dancer, appeared in Taylor’s video for ‘Lover,‘ and has performed at Lollapalooza Stockholm and Paris, and some lucky fans were even able to meet him as he walked through the audience.
Marie Ulven Ringheim, singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer for Girl In Red performed a high-energy set and featured many of their well-known hits like ‘We Fell In Love In October‘ a song described as a pride month song, ‘Serotonin,’ ‘Bad Idea,’ ‘and ended the set with “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend.“ This was Girl In Red’s first night with the tour, and Taylor explained how she knows every single word for every song on her album, and she killed it last night!
Taylor Brings The Spirit Of Friendship
This performance was the perfect launch to the summer concert season, with many students having recently ended their school year, and what a way to send it off, singing, dancing, and enjoying the spirit of friendship among other fans as many shared friendship bracelets with each other throughout the evening and admired each other’s forms of self-expression.
The stage setup was quite different from 2018’s Reputation Tour, seemingly not as deep and with the band performing on both sides of the stage. A massive walkway extended from the center of the stage, with a diamond shape at its center that continued for perhaps another 50 feet forming a “T” shape at the end. This allowed more fans to have that front-row seat experience at each point of the walkway.
Like New Year’s Eve, a countdown preceded the performance in analog and digital formats, and fans grew anxious as the seconds closed in. However, the show started on a considerably more subdued note than “Ready For It” from the Reputation tour, which featured strobes, powerful blasts of smoke, and the entire team of dancers setting the tone for that tour.
Part of the video screen lifted from the center stage as some performers made their way through to the center of the stadium. All performers wore a beautifully ornate costume that stemmed outward and upward from their waist and spanned about 20 feet in height—the coloring resembling that of flower petals in pink, orange, and purple organic patterns.
Upon reaching the center, they swayed and moved in a slow, dance-like manner before turning in towards each other and laid their petals down on top of each other, and when they lifted back up, Taylor Swift appeared with the roar of well over 60,000 ecstatic fans. This reminded me of a chrysalis as they seemed to portray a cocoon with her emerging anew as we visited the many eras of Taylor’s successful career.
Taylor’s show consisted of a perfect blend of technology, beautiful costumes, actual set pieces and props (like bicycles, dining tables, and typewriters, for example), and solid musicianship like that of her newest addition to her musical family, Keyboardist, Karina DePiano who was highlighted in the song “Tolerate It” from the 2020s ‘Evermore’ album.
The video screen quality was sharp and was used to create otherworldly scenes, lush forests and to deepen the connection with her fans, who may not have seen her from the many vantage points throughout the stadium. The costume changes were frequent and fast, coinciding with the changes of eras, signified by main color themes in lighting and sets.
Many scenes had an organic and natural tone, as demonstrated in “Willow,” where we see Taylor and company wearing dark green cloaks, holding orange globes, and casting a fire spell in a forest. Very beautiful, incredibly creative, well-executed, and one of my favorite moments of the show, though some ‘conservatives’ may not appreciate it as much, lol.
She commented how wonderful it was to see so many people living “authentically and beautifully,” and she assured them that “this is a safe space for you; a celebratory space for you.” She added, “I wish that every place was safe and beautiful for people in the LGBTQ communities because you can’t talk about pride without talking about pain.”
“In recent years, there have been so many harmful pieces of legislation that put people in the LGBTQ community at risk. It’s painful for everyone, every ally, every loved one, every person in these communities, and that’s why I’m always posting when the midterms are, this is when these important key primaries are.”
“We can support all we want during Pride Month, but if we’re not doing our research on these elected officials… Are they advocates? are they allies” are they protectors of equality? Do I want to vote for them? I love you guys so much. Happy Pride Month.” It is so great to see artists inspiring fans with more than just their music; you may recall when a simple social media post of hers inspired her fans to register to vote. Perhaps more artists should follow suit to help affect more positive change in our country.
One example of her attention to detail was using interactive elements with the walkway portion of the stage. In “Delicate,” we see a moment where she stomps her foot down, and cracks spread throughout the stage. Another time, we see her take a dive and swim the length of it, and yet another time, it was made to look like her performers were trashing a car, fascinating elements indeed.
There were very few (if any) moments throughout the show where her fans were not singing along with her, as was most noted with one of the surprise acoustic performances of “I Wish You Would” from the album 1989 and “the lakes“, a Folklore bonus track. To hear an entire stadium sing was genuinely moving.
So, was the performance worth it? There is no doubt that 100% of fans say yes. She performed over 40 hits, deeper cuts and surprise songs and didn’t make the fans feel like she was rushing through any of it. She savored every second of time with her fans and the feeling was clearly mutual. For lesser fans, this tour may not be the tour to catch her on, if you like only some of her songs, it might not be worth it, or it may be the perfect opportunity to get to know her better.
She released four new albums and launched a passion project, re-recording previous works like Red (Taylor’s Version), Fearless (Taylor’s Version), and soon, Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), due out early on July 7th. As a result, she will have re-recorded six of her previous works precisely as she wanted.
Let’s give Taylor all the praise where praise is due; she has always been far more than a singer-songwriter. She is a visionary who has achieved far more success than most could imagine. She started her career the same as most, but despite the turbulence, she’s been bruised but never beaten. She is an inspiration to follow your dreams and never give up.
What is the secret to Taylor’s success? She speaks to the young and the young at heart and crafts great music that moves you, plain and simple. Be sure to catch this amazing tour in your city! Arrive early and look for the Capital One booth to be part of Taylor’s commercial!
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New International Tour Dates Announced!
August 24 – Mexico City, Mexico – Foro Sol
August 25 – Mexico City, Mexico – Foro Sol
August 26 – Mexico City, Mexico – Foro Sol
November 9 – Buenos Aires, Argentina – Estadio River Plate
November 10 – Buenos Aires, Argentina – Estadio River Plate
November 18 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Estádio Nilton Santos
November 25 – São Paulo, Brazil – Allianz Parque
November 26 -São Paulo, Brazil – Allianz Parque