Words by Haley Papeo / Photo: Taylor Swift Rights Management
Editor’s Note: When figuring out which one of our crack writers to send to cover the biggest concert tour of the year, we thought who better to send than the 14 year old daughter of our photo editor, and life-long Swiftie, Haley Papeo….
Music superstar Taylor Swift dazzled MetLife Stadium during her sold-out show on May 28 at in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Taylor Swift is an icon of pop. Throughout her expansive career, she has been constantly breaking records, and doing so with ease. At only 16, Swift jumped into the country scene with her standout hit “Tim McGraw” in 2006. She followed up “Tim McGraw” with her self-titled album in October of that year. Swift has had a massive career, from her transition to pop in Red, to her first full pop album 1989; she changes genres, and eras, like never before. Her previous “Reputation” Tour gained critical acclaim and became the highest-grossing tour of all time, but right before her “Lover” tour, Covid struck, leaving Taylor to fend for her own devices.
The pandemic birthed lyrically stunning albums like Folklore and Evermore, which changed the pop scene, and our observations of pop as we know it. In August of 2022, Swift announced her 10th and latest studio album Midnights – soon after its release, Taylor announced “The Eras Tour”.
Seventeen years after her debut, Taylor Swift’s current tour, “The Era’s Tour”, gives audiences a journey into what 17 years of music sounds like. In between Phoebe Bridgers’ set and Swift’s set, Lesly Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” plays. It is a wonderful stab at Scooter Braun, the music executive that stole the rights to her music from her in 2019. In turn, the theft created a way for Taylor to rerelease stolen pieces of work. So far, her albums Fearless and Red have been rerecorded and distributed with the label “Taylor’s Version”.
After the song, a clock flashes onto the main stage. Anticipation builds as the clock ticks. Seconds, and soon minutes go by. The crowd anxiously awaits her arrival. What seems to be a dreamlike fantasy starts to play. Taylor appears in a sea of flags and pink feathers coming out of the stage itself. The show takes off with her song “Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince ”, signaling the start of her “Lover” era. The show has begun, and it began with a bang.
Within the “Lover” era, performances of “Cruel Summer”,” The Man”, “You Need to Calm Down”, and “Lover” showcase Taylor’s bubblegum pop. The era litters the air with pastels and cotton candy-colored dreams. Swift then peels back her layers and allows us to feel for her in the self-reflective ballad “The Archer”. As an audience member, as well as a fan, you could tell how much Taylor loves performing.
Soon after, the screen starts to flash gold and the “Fearless” era starts. While the “Lover” era was pastel, the “Fearless” era is shimmering and erupting with passion. Swift radiates energy with her song “Fearless”, then follows it up with her smash hits “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me”. Within the different eras, the crowd always matches the energy of Taylor herself.
Taylor then brought a mystical eeriness to her “Evermore” era. The performance felt as if we were traveling through the woods with her, lost in the worlds of “‘Tis The Damn Season”, “Willow”, “Champagne Problems”, and “Tolerate It”. These songs were adorned with beautiful choreography, visuals, and costumes which contributed to the mysterious atmosphere. During the song “Marjorie”, the audience used their phone flashlights to light up the stadium. After that, all of the fans started to chant “Taylor” to show love which in turn, surprised Taylor and her team.
The somberness of “Evermore” transitioned into the rock and punch that “Reputation” brings to the table. Something that Taylor does throughout “Eras”—pays homage to her previous tours. Swift alludes to this with her black and red bedazzled bodysuit. A word I would use to describe her set is consistent. Consistent vocals, energy, and choreography throughout the entire experience— Reputation is no different. During the songs “….Ready For it?”, “Don’t Blame Me”, and “Look at What You Made Me Do”, the crowd went wild. Within the song “Delicate”, the production of the song and composition of the instruments draw a stark contrast to the rest of the concert. The main stage screen starts to flash black.
After a minute or so, Swift walks out in a purple sequined dress, signaling the start of her “Speak Now” era. Taylor then performs “Enchanted” to the crowd. Although this is the only “Speak Now” song within the tour. She is releasing “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” on July 7th. I noticed that her audience is filled with fans of every age, race, and ethnicity. Swift creates a performance that all can enjoy, no matter the section of the arena. She brings the same level of performance to all parts of the stadium, even if you’re not on the floor.
All of a sudden, a red box appears on the main stage; the “Red” era has started. One of Taylor’s background dancers walks out and attempts to open it. Within the different attempts, fan-beloved songs are played, such as “Red”, and “State of Grace”. On the final try, Taylor jumps out of the box. She sings “22” and gives her hat to a small child on the floor. The audience is erupting with energy during the songs “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble”. Soon after, Swift appears in a sparkly red jumpsuit and calls for Phoebe Bridgers to join her on stage. Together, they sing an acoustic version of “Nothing New” before Swift bids goodbye to Phoebe. Tears were shed by the two of them, as it is Phoebe’s last concert with Taylor on “The Era’s Tour”. Swift’s lyrical talent shines through when she sings “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” on the guitar.
The “Folklore” era has now begun, with trees scattering upon the stage. A spoken word intro plays and invites the audience to tell these stories with her. Taylor appears on stage and relays to the audience that, although most of her songs are autobiographical, this album, however, is not. The fans get immersed in the songs “Betty”, “Cardigan”, and “August” which are affectionately grouped together and are named ‘the teenage love triangle’. The song “Betty”, tells the story of James, a high school student who cheated on the love of his life, and wants her back. “Cardigan” is about the situation in retrospect from Betty’s perspective. And finally, “August”, is about the August nights that James and the other woman shared. In addition to the love triangle, Swift then belts out “Illicit Affairs” with so much emotion and heartache. In the songs, “The 1”, “My Tears Ricochet”, and “The Last Great American Dynasty”, Taylor uses her voice and lyricism to emote and create art that is larger than herself.
The illustrious and iconic guitar riff from “Style” welcomes the audience into the 80’s synth world of the “1989” era. It is arguably her most critically acclaimed album. With hits like “Blank Space”, “Shake it Off”, and “Bad Blood”, these songs were theatrical and enthusiastic, littered with different Easter eggs for the fans. For example, during “Blank Space”, Taylor swings a light-up golf club, which references the “Blank Space” music video.
At last, the moment the crowd has been waiting for. Suspense has been building for the entire night. The room goes quiet, you could hear a pin drop throughout the stadium. Taylor, in a bright yellow dress, picks up her guitar— “Welcome to New York” starts to play. Every night, Taylor Swift plays two different surprise songs: one acoustic, and one on the piano. The rule is that she cannot repeat a song unless she has “messed it up”. MetLife Night 3 was the first repeated song, which was “Clean” on the piano.
Taylor’s final era of the night, “Midnights” hit the stage. Light lilac and lavender swirls illuminate the stadium, bringing the audience into Taylor’s “Lavender Haze’. During “Midnight Rain”, Swift changes into her final costume of the night. A beautiful blue bodysuit adorns her frame while she sings, “Anti-Hero”, “Vigilante Shit”, “Bejeweled”, and “Mastermind”. Finally, Taylor performs “Karma” with collaborator Ice Spice. Earlier that weekend, Swift released Midnights (Til Dawn Edition), which was stunned with new and unreleased tracks like the previously mentioned “Karma (Featuring Ice Spice)”, “Hits Different”, and so much more.
Overall, Taylor Swift’s concert was incredible. The visuals, vocals, and choreography enhanced the concert itself. “The Era’s Tour” is iconic and will forever be remembered as a celebration of Taylor’s life and career up to this point. A specific aspect of the concert that I loved was the inclusion of the glow-up bracelets. It adds to the fan interaction and allows the fans to stay connected, no matter their age, gender, or seat. Throughout the entire performance, fans were shouting out relatable lyrics and giving new life to the previously released songs.
Taylor Swift and the team behind her were unreal. A huge thank you and shout out to Taylor’s team for providing me (and my step-sister Hannah) with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I would love to thank my father and The Waster. And finally, I want to thank my friend Sofia for assisting me with the piece itself. “The Era’s Tour” proves that not only is she achieving greatness, but Taylor Swift is changing and transforming the music industry.
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