On Aug. 14 and 15, Taylor Swift graced Levi’s Stadium with her record-breaking, life-altering show. The 1989 World Tour, drew 50,000 fans each night, including myself on the the second night. The concert was themed around the year 1989, Swift’s birth year, and her journey as an artist leading to the production of her latest album. After years of fighting sexist media portrayals, Swift used this tour to put down stereotypes and reclaim her image of power, feminism, and strength.
Before Swift took the stage, up-and-coming artists Shawn Mendes and Vance Joy opened the show. Mendes performed alone with only his guitar, encouraging audience participation for his hits like Stitches and Something Big. Joy followed Mendes and drew the crowd to their feet with his indie tunes. Armed with a ukelele, Joy closed with the popular Riptide.
After a brief wait, the entire stadium came alive as the audience’s complementary bracelets lit up in synchronization to Swift’s Welcome to New York. Swift transformed the stadium into New York City, with lights flashing and the skyline lit up on stage, illuminating the artist herself in a sparkling outfit, surrounded by dancers. Though it was a bit odd to be welcomed to New York in the middle of Silicon Valley, the song set the tone of the show and transported the crowd into Swift’s world.
From there, Swift launched into one of the bonus tracks from 1989, New Romantics, getting the entire audience dancing. Swift’s hit Blank Space followed, accompanied by a sophisticated black and white set. She continued with an eerie, chill-inducing version of I Knew You Were Trouble off her last album, Red. Much riskier than the rest of her show, the song showed Swift’s development since her last tour and her evolution from pop-country princess to prominent, respected artist.
Next came four more songs from 1989: I Wish You Would, How You Get The Girl, I Know Places, and All You Had To Do Was Stay. Though less popular than the rest of 1989, each song was just as theatrical and artistic as the rest of the show.
After slowing down with the emotional and purifying Clean, Swift performed one if her only songs not on her latest album, a throwback song requested by a fan she had met before the concert began. She dedicated her performance of Never Grow Up to her newborn godson, Leo Thames, son of model Jaime King and Kyle Newman. The audience was drawn to tears as the catwalk portion of the stage lifted into the air, carrying Swift and her guitar. As the catwalk rotated over the crowd, the artist headed to her keyboard to sing another old favorite, Love Story. As captivated as the audience was by these old favorites, Swift did not play any more off her pre-2012 albums.
Throughout the night, Swift promised her fans a surprise for their energy and excitement, and she followed through. Swift was joined by the all female group Little Mix, who performed their hit single Black Magic as Swift sang along. Additionally, during her performance of Style, Swift invited Academy Award winner Julia Roberts and music legend Joan Baez to join her on stage, singing and dancing in front of thousands. At other shows, Swift has surprised her audience with Ed Sheeran, Lorde, Cara Delevingne, Lena Dunham, and the United States Women’s International Soccer Team, to name a few.
Swift returned to the stage after Style, clad in a tight leather jumpsuit, to sing her recent hit single, Bad Blood. Swift’s celebrity packed music video popularized the single, which features a rap verse from Kendrick Lamar. Swift kept the mood dark as she moved into a passionate and angry version of the normally upbeat We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, similar to how she styled I Knew You Were Trouble earlier in the evening.
Following We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Swift took to her piano for an elegant mashup of her latest single, Wildest Dreams, and an older but just as romantic favorite, Enchanted. This enchanting combination led into another 1989 single, Out Of The Woods, which included flying giant paper airplanes over the audience’s heads. As the catwalk once again took flight, Swift and her dancers soared above the crowd as she performed her final song for the night, Shake It Off. The crowd eagerly shook off the haters as their wristbands lit in different colors and fireworks framed the stage.
Throughout the show, Swift never failed to express her gratitude for her fans, lovingly called “Swifties,” and thank them for all their support throughout her career. The 1989 shows sold out in stadiums across the United States, and Swift was recognized by the Staples Center in Los Angeles for selling out more shows than any other performer, with a total of sixteen in her career. Despite taking risks and completely changing her music style, Swift has achieved great success as an artist and put on a phenomenal show to prove it. The tour served as Swift’s chance to embrace her transformation and reclaim her image once and for all.
Photos courtesy of Jessica Blough