By James Currie and Maisey Currie
Ok, yes, I was a little out of my element on this one, but shockingly managed to not only get my work done on someone I know very little about, but actually enjoyed it very much. Thanks to the help and guidance of my concert going youngling, Maisey, we were able to navigate the waves of Swifties and see one of, if not, thee show of the year, the Taylor Swift Era’s Tour.
When this tour was announced last year, fans went berserk. When the actual tickets went on sale, systems shut down, a frenzy of angry chatter rose through the community and tears were shed, but after all that, Taylor Swift fans had 3 days to make it happen any way they could as Chicago’s lakefront was going to be home to the pop star during the first weekend in June. They celebrated though those prized coveted tickets inside the great walls of Soldier Field or seated park side camping out to enjoy the music with thousands of other rabid fans.
We made our way inside the Bears stadium and when we walked though the main field gates, Maisey was in awe. This was by far the largest concert she’s ever attended. There were fans in every nook and cranny of the venue. As she put it, “There are so many people, so far and wide, I can’t even make them out as human, just color spots from the floor to the sky of moving shapes.” Indeed, when you haven’t been to a stadium show before, it’s overwhelming. And this shows size was even impressive from this seasoned journalist.
A large video of a clock started counting down to zero signaling the show was about to start. Maisey was getting nervous. The crowd noise level grew louder and louder as the clock neared zero. Truly deafening, time for ear plugs! The screen went blank, a small opening appeared on the back wall stage. Men, with giant flower peddles came out waving their 20 feet tall color pallet to the crowd. They soon gathered near the middle of the stage, crouched down and piled their flowers in the middle, raising up in unison to reveal Taylor Swift.
Swift came out with a sequined outfit with matching knee-high boots and sang, “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince”. This kicked off her more than three hour show starting with micro sets within highlighting tracks from her career. This first movement was from her 2019 album, “Lover”. She continued on with a half a dozen other songs off this album before darting off into a costume change and returning with another album set highlighting her career.
On this night, the opening night of the 3 day residency, she performed 10 sets within the evening covering songs off her albums, “Fearless”, “evermore”, “reputation”, “Speak Now”, “Red”, “Folklore”, “1989”, “Surprise Songs” (where she debuted an acoustic version of “I Wish You Would” and of course “Midnights” where she performed her latest hits “Anti-Hero” (one of Maisey’s favorites) and 6 others ending the night with “Karma”.
One of the fun things Swift has done on this tour was the incorporation of digital light technology which made each fan a part of her interactive show. These bracelets changed colors, flashing patterns and shapes throughout the night causing the entire stadium to be a part of the show. As if her giant floor stage show wasn’t enough.
There were many, many costume changes. Some bringing out elaborate dresses for a ball, the slinky costumes that represented snakes, to hooded robes of Swifts entourage as they seemed to have a forest ceremony with fire and moonlight. The stage and giant backwall video screen moved seamlessly together creating new environments, scenes and other worldly dimensions right out of a storybook. Moss covered grande pianos with wooden microphones under a giant semi hollowed out tree in a lavish dark forest. Office complexes that spanned the entire stage. The stage had hidden compartments that took dancers away, paths that led to new areas and risers that created walls, bridges and towers creating even more depth to the production. This was not something I was expecting to see from a pop star. This was something like a mix between Cirque du Soleil and Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
Taylor Swift fans are fanatics. They know every song. They sing along with her like karaoke at a corner bar. She welcomes them into her world with open arms and makes them a part of her show just as much as her lyrics, stage designs and costumes. You could see and hear this all night long inside and out of the mighty venue.
As for Swift herself, she’s a consummate professional that knows her audience and can connect with her fans at a personal level even at a stadium sized event. She’s a true performer with an absolute gift to entertain. The way she worked that massive stage and her audience was beyond impressive. Taking moments to focus on a small group of fans near by or a single girl in the front row is one thing, but reaching those fans high up in the nosebleed seats and getting responses back from them is magic.
This was one of the most entertaining live concerts I’ve ever seen. And that’s saying a lot since I’ve been attending shows since the late 80’s. I’ve seen it all but this took things to another level. Taylor Swift and her company are setting new standards for area shows with the Eras Tour. Maisey agrees, though she hasn’t been to many concerts yet, this one is going to be memorable for a lifetime and is as she put it, “going to be really hard to match from anyone else”.
For more on Taylor Swift and the Eras Tour, click here
For photos from the show, click here