The general concept of a ‘greatest hits’ tour tends be one that artists in their later years embark on: whether it’s a broken-up band reuniting after several years of a break or a solo artist returning to the limelight for one last time before settling into to a life of solitude away from the public eye. It’s certainly not the norm for 33-year-old pop stars.
That’s where things get interesting. When Taylor Swift announced her 10th studio album, Midnights last year, the consensus was that Swift would be embarking on a tour soon after to promote said album, considering that was a MO that Swift strictly followed most of her career. But this time around, things were different. The last time she had toured was back in 2018 in support of her electro-pop record reputation, and she had since put out a whopping four albums that had never been performed live on tour. Swift’s plans for touring Lover, the follow-up album to reputation, had been shelved thanks to COVID-19, and there was no public information on touring plans for folklore and evermore, Swift’s two sister albums which collectively dropped in 2020.
Fans took to the corners of the internet to discuss potential theories: will she include songs from Lover, folklore, and evermore? Will it just be a tour promoting the most recent release, the way that she usually toured? We didn’t have to wait long to hear that Taylor would be embarking on The Eras Tour, a celebration of her 10-album career: one that would result in a bloodbath for tickets and the uprising of Swifties coming together across the globe with one common goal in mind: to take down Ticketmaster for their horrendous handling of Swift’s ticket sales.
Many fans left verified fan presales empty-handed, eventually forcing the ticket conglomerate to announce that the entire Eras Tour had sold out during the presales. It was never truly explained how this happened, and millions of fans, many who hadn’t previously had issues getting their hands on tickets like this before, were left with nothing. But the show must go on.
Swift’s two night stint at The Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas were only the 3rd and 4th shows of the Eras Tour, following opening weekend in Glendale, Arizona. Coming from Los Angeles myself, it’s safe to say that fellow fans traveled far and wide to be in attendance from all over the country, and even the world.
Opening with a condensed version of “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” Swift emerged from underneath the stage, hidden under a large tapestry-esque billow of fabric held by her dancers. While I was initially puzzled with this choice of track for the opening number, it quickly made sense to me, as Taylor Swift’s decisions do: the first line you hear from her mouth onstage just ‘happens’ to be a lyric from the hook of the track: “It’s been a long time coming.” It sure has.
Swift quickly transitioned into fan-favorite “Cruel Summer,” the song that felt like the true opening track of the evening, with “Miss Americana” being used as more of a statement of Swift’s dominance over the evening more than an homage to the song itself. “The Man” came next, featuring the first outfit change of the night: Swift opted for a silver, sparkly blazer and matching boots on night one, a black version on night two. “You Need To Calm Down,” “Lover,” and “The Archer,” came next. Lover is Swift’s longest project to date (not including any deluxe editions of her previous albums) and clocks in at 18 songs long: I’d give anything to be a fly on the wall while she was determining which 1/3 of the tracks were going to make the cut for the live show (Luckily, she was intuitive enough to leave “ME!” off the list).
Fearless was the next era we were taken back to: an ode to Swift’s sophomore album, which came out nearly fifteen years ago: a statement that makes me feel incredibly old. Despite Swift being known to play two of her biggest tracks from the Fearless era quite regularly during her live shows, it was still very much a treat to hear “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me,” with the backdrop designed to emulate teenage Taylor: the stage transitioning into a golden hue to throw it back to Swift’s era of cowboy boots and YouTube VLOGS. While I was ecstatic to hear 33-year-old Swift perform “Fearless,” part of me felt disappointed that we didn’t get a new rendition of “Fifteen.” Maybe on the next Eras tour!
While I certainly enjoy most of the evermore album, I will admit that it’s hard for me to think of it as a standalone album and not just an afterthought after Taylor released folklore. With that being said, my expectations for what she would be playing off this album were not as high. Fortunately for me, she did end up playing one of my favorites off the project (“champagne problems”) on night one, and “cowboy like me” ft. Marcus Mumford in the flesh on night two—a truly magical surprise.
Selections from evermore that made the cut included “champagne problems,” “’tis the damn season,” “willow,” and “marjorie,” a song that’s notably meaningful to Swift, considering the subject is her grandmother, whose backup vocals are featured on the track. This was a wonderfully intimate detail included in the grand scheme of the tour, because Swift’s grandmother always had dreams of being a singer—one that came true posthumously.
Something about the stadium’s energy was completely electrified the moment Swift returned to perform songs from her reputation era: whether it was because many of her fans had last seen her on tour during this era, or because this section of the night featured the most upbeat, energetic performances. For Swift to transition to a sleek, sexy, asymmetrical, one-legged bodysuit from a billowing, light, angelic dress didn’t seem like it’d make sense, but it absolutely did. And Swift effortlessly pulled it off, very much how she’s been able to genre-jump throughout her entire career.
“…Ready For It” and “Look What You Made Me Do” were the bookends of this section: and felt like the two songs that represented this era the best. Swift couldn’t have left the rep era without a performance of “Delicate,” a single from the album and arguably its most popular. A stunning, yet shortened rendition of “Don’t Blame Me” was a nice reminder that Swift’s vocals have continued to improve and grown stronger over the last decade.
It goes without saying that Swift’s already elaborate production design was blown up to an even larger size for The Eras Tour, and one of my favorite moments of this was on display (literally) during “Look What You Made Me Do,” as each of Taylor’s backup dancers stood in glass boxes begging to be let out of their cages, dressed in famous outfits of Taylor’s past.
One of the most surprising moments of the night was the lack of representation of Speak Now, an album that quite the fan-favorite and one that Swifties have been hypothesizing is the next re-record she’s going to drop. After a menacing performance of the reputation era, Swift returned to the stage in a massive, glittery dress fit for a Barbie doll to sing “Enchanted,” the only song featured on the setlist from Speak Now. While I very much could have listed a handful of songs I would have loved to hear from Speak Now, (mainly “Long Live,” “The Story Of Us,” and “Dear John”), we’ll have to wait and see if she decides to perform any of them during the “secret songs” section of the set at future dates.
One of the eras I was most looking forward to returning to was Red, an album that I consider to be my favorite from Swift, even though it has several songs I skip on most listens (confusing, I know). But I find something about this album and this performance specifically so magnetizing because I truly believe it’s the reason that Taylor was able to catapult into pop superstardom.
Obviously 1989 made this happen as well, but the true representation of Swift’s decision to change up her sound was born in Red: we had never gotten a song with dubstep from Taylor before “I Knew You Were Trouble!” Red also came out when I was 18-years-old, so it’s safe to say that it was also released during a very big time of change in my life as well. I think this sentiment resonated with the crowd: like I mentioned the energy changing with reputation, it also changed with the arrival of red.
“22” started this section of the show, followed by “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble.” This section closed with a strikingly raw performance of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version),” a feat that most pop stars will never truly achieve in the way that Swift managed to when she released it in 2021. How many artists can say that they performed a 10-minute version of a song they wrote over ten years ago to 60,000 people singing every single word back to you? Out of all of the times I have seen Taylor Swift perform, this was undoubtedly one of the most powerful moments I’ve seen from her and her fans.
folklore has given Red a run for its money in terms of taking the top slot of my favorite TS albums (it currently sits at number 2, but it’s definitely close). If I could hear every single song off of folklore live, I’d love it. Unfortunately I knew that this was highly unlikely going into The Eras Tour, but I will say that Taylor did a pretty good job compiling the setlist for folklore. I do think the songs she played could have been moved around in a different order: I love the song “Invisible String” and it’s in my top 5 songs off the album, but I don’t know if it has the power to open this section of the tour that Taylor thinks it does. It felt a bit underwhelming, which is a bummer because I love the song so much. The energy picked up with a performance of “betty,” but leading into “the last great american dynasty” afterwards felt like two big songs shoved together, due to lots of dancers and band members being onstage for both. “august” got the recognition it deserved, and the way Swift tacked on a verse from “illicit affairs” at the end of the track made more sense that I anticipated it to.
But hands down, my favorite moment from the folklore section was a gut-wrenching performance of “my tears ricochet,” my favorite song off the album. From the vocals to the production to the choreography with the dancers, I felt like the performance of this song said the most by doing the least. Swift led her dancers to the end of the runway like she was the head of her own funeral procession very much how the lyrics of the song convey the same powerful message. If fans take anything away from the entire night’s performance, I hope that they feel moved by the emotion Swift displayed during this track.
As if the show couldn’t continue any longer, it just kept going (at this point, we were already at about two hours—I did not even see Taylor drink a sip of water onstage from start to end). 1989 was up next and the crowd was ready to go. Swift opted for all bangers for this section of the evening, performing the biggest tracks off the album: “Style,” “Blank Space,” “Shake It Off,” “Wildest Dreams,” and “Bad Blood,” of course. Dancers road around on neon bicycles, use golf clubs as dance accessories to “smash” a car that was animated on apart of the stage, fire appeared during “Bad Blood.” The amount of production value for this one 20-minute block alone was comparable to the amount that we saw during the 1989 tour in its entirety, which is saying something.
For the past few tours, Swift has made it a tradition to play a surprise song during the middle of the set that’s not included on the setlist from city to city. This time around, fans were pleasantly surprised to get not only one surprise song, but two! The first two nights of the tour in Glendale got “Mirrorball” (This one hurt) and “Tim Mcgraw,” and “This Is Me Trying” and “State of Grace,” which meant it was unlikely those four would be played again. Night one of Vegas got “Our Song” and “Snow On The Beach,” the ladder “Cowboy Like Me (previously mentioned) and “White Horse.”
“Lana Del Rey put out a new album today,” Swift said on night one. I think she is the best that we have and so make it a priority to stream, buy, support this album and this artist. She knows I am obsessed with her and she was kind enough to make a song with me on Midnights called ‘Snow on the Beach,’” Swift said.
I don’t think Swift could have closed the evening out with anything but an ode to the current era we’re in: Midnights! Starting with “Lavender Haze,” Swift appeared onstage in a fluffy jacket, singing under clouds held by her dancers in a purple haze (of course). This led into “Anti-Hero,” and was definitely met with wild enthusiasm from the crowd, despite there being less of a production value for this song, like it was just being celebrated for the masterclass in songwriting that it represents. The rest of the songs from Midnights were “Midnight Rain” (a pleasant surprise I wasn’t expecting to hear), “Vigilant Shit,” (a song that I personally despise but applauded its live performance thanks to amazing choreography), “Bejeweled,” “Mastermind,” and “Karma.” I was overall happy with the songs Swift picked off of Midnights to perform, but was astonished that “You’re On Your Own Kid” was omitted.
About two songs into the evening on night two, I mentioned to my friend and fellow concert attendee that the evening was a marathon, not a sprint. I now am realizing the connection with that sentiment and Taylor Swift’s career: spanning over a decade and 10 majorly successful albums and several re-recordings on the way. After all, 3+ hour performances don’t just happen. Very much like her career’s success thus far, these things take incredible stamina, patience, dedication, and perseverance to be the very best version of yourself that you can be.
Is this the closing of a chapter? Will Taylor take a hiatus from touring after this? Where does she go next? While we don’t know, I have a feeling she certainly does. After all, she doesn’t refer to herself as a mastermind for nothing.
View Taylor’s upcoming tour dates here.