Swift sparkling in Broadway-style concert

Eras​​ Tour highlights artistry as audience journeys through 10-album career


Maya Palavali

Pop star Taylor Swift came to the Arlington AT&T Stadium as a part of her Eras tour for three nights. The Sidekick executive editorial page editor Manasa Mohan reflects on her experience of attending the concert.

Manasa Mohan, Executive Editorial Page Editor

ARLINGTON – A palpable buzz of anticipation fills the air as thousands of Taylor Swift fans, donned in sparkling outfits and holding handmade friendship bracelets, gather for the concert of a lifetime.

As the first notes of “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” echo throughout the venue, the audience is captivated by a burst of wonder. A whimsical and ethereal vibe is portrayed by pastel-hued tapestry that dances across the stage, setting the tone for the entire Lover era.

The electrifying notes and the deafening sound of fans singing along to the “Cruel Summer” bridge fills the arena, the audience is immediately launched into an intimate journey that Swift depicts across the stage. 

Each hit song that follows (“The Man,” “Lover” and “The Archer”) is a chapter in Swift’s personal diary as the crowd gets a glimpse into her most vulnerable moments and deepest emotions, ultimately forging the unbreakable bond she creates with the crowd during her three hour show.

After a brief costume change, Swift’s second era, Fearless, featured the titular song “Fearless,” and two of her most popular songs, “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me.” During the second set, Swift managed to get most, if not all, of the 70,000-member audience to stay on their feet and belt every word of her songs, immediately transporting them back to her own high school years. The performance exudes a playful innocence and exuberance that sets it apart from the other eras she performed.  

It is in this era that the production value of the show began to shine, with stunning golden lighting and the image of Swift’s guitar being projected onto the T-shaped runway. Every minute detail was executed to perfection, invoking nostalgia as Swift re-invented the girl with golden pin curls that fans met in 2008. 

The third era, evermore, featured standout tracks “willow,” “champagne problems” and a poignant tribute to her grandmother with “marjorie.” The staging of this era is equally impressive as the vocals, with a moss-covered piano in front of a massive oak tree backdrop.

The attention to detail sets the tour apart from others Swift has performed in the past. The evermore era features a microphone that is meticulously painted to resemble a tree branch, seamlessly blending with the surrounding scenery. For the “willow” performance, Swift and her backup dancers donned witch-like cloaks and danced around Swift holding orange orbs, further adding to the mystic and fantastical performance. 

The Reputation  era kicked off with a captivating introduction: a glimpse of a snake slithering across the stage screen and ominous pre-recorded clicks of Swift’s boots. The songs of this era were “…Ready For It?” followed by “Delicate” and a seamless mashup of “Don’t Blame Me” and “Look What You Made Me Do.”

Swift electrified the audience with her Reputation Stadium Tour – reminiscent of a red snake-wrapped microphone and effortlessly led famous fan chants, most notably during “Delicate.” Despite relatively simple stage elements, Swift’s vocal ability and boundless energy shines in songs like “Don’t Blame Me” and “Look What You Made Me Do.”

The performance of “Look What You Made Me Do” is nothing short of spectacular with intricately designed glass boxes housing backup dancers who were dressed in some of Swift’s most iconic looks. Eagle-eyed fans seem to think Swift was dropping subtle hints regarding which album would be re-recorded next as she passionately pounds on the glass frame that features Speak Now.   

Dazzling in a bejeweled ball gown, Swift graces the stage to perform “Enchanted” from her third album, Speak Now. Despite the song’s performance being stunning and a powerful expression of infatuation upon first meeting someone, I could not help but wish for more. With a plethora of hits to choose from, the tour could have featured more songs from the album for a more well-rounded experience. 

The exhilarating Red setlist comprised four songs: “22,”  “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “All Too Well (10 Minute Version).” The performance is enhanced by two shimmering costume changes, which only adds to the excitement of the era. The first three coming-of-age songs got everyone on their feet to scream along to the spunky and uplifting beats, creating an unforgettable atmosphere. 

But it is “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” where Swift showed just how versatile her repertoire is. Despite the sudden switch in the tone of the previous songs, the audience quickly hops on board with her proposal: “I wanted to play one more song, if you have an extra 10 minutes to spare.” 

As autumn leaves and slight bursts of snowflakes gently cascaded from the stage at the corresponding lyric moment, the calming yet emotional scenery that Swift creates on stage is breathtaking. The slow strumming of her guitar and the utter rawness of the performance was simple but more than enough to connect with the audience and take them on the journey of her life: the ups, the downs and everything in between.

In between the Red and folklore eras, the impeccable choreography for backup dancers and Swift’s enthralling voiceovers set the stage for the next chapter, highlighting the level of detail that went into every aspect of the show. As the performance unfolded, the stage features a moss covered house. Swift sits atop the roof of the house to perform “the 1,” different from her shows in previous cities where she performed “seven” and “invisible string.” 

Swift continues to mesmerize with “betty,” “the last great american dynasty,” “august,” “illicit affairs,” “my tears ricochet” and fan-favorite “cardigan,” where Swift performs on the steps of the house and on the runway part of the stage. Her heartfelt and poignant performances of the songs left the audience in a trance after the energy from the previous era. It is a series of musical bliss and peaceful moments strung together that left an impression on the entire audience. 

“the last great american dynasty”, which describes the story of [Rebekah Harkness, a philanthropist and patron of the arts in St. Louis who is the previous owner of Swift’s house in Rhode Island], is brought to life with performers in stunning period attire, which took the audience back to a bygone era. The haunting melody of “my tears ricochet” featured the stage transforming into a funeral procession while Swift sat in the middle of it all and “cardigan” showed Swift isolated in the cottage, bringing the audience back to feelings of  loneliness and isolation in the pandemic. 

After the enchanting journey of folklore, the audience is taken to the boldest and most popular era, 1989. Swift delivered a powerhouse performance of some of her most iconic hits including  “Style,” “Blank Space,””Shake it Off,” “Wildest Dreams” and “Bad Blood.” 

Dancers rode neon bicycles to “Blank Space” and smashed an animated car using blue-lit golf clubs during “Shake it Off.” “Bad Blood” was no less impressive with crisp choreography and fire shooting out from surrounding stage towers. After the poignant feelings with which the folklore era left the audience, 1989 is pure exhilaration that showcased the range and talent of Swift as a performer. 

Swift ended the concert with a bang, performing six songs from her album Midnights: “Lavender Haze,” “Anti-Hero,” “Midnight Rain,” “Vigilante,” “Bejeweled,” “Mastermind” and ended the night with “Karma.” The night culminated in a breathtaking performance characterized by Swift’s dynamic stage presence and magnetic energy that left the audience on their feet singing along to the infectious melodies. 

The 44-song setlist spanned Swift’s discography, excluding her debut album, Taylor Swift, but each era was accompanied by personalized visuals and sets, elaborate costume changes and shining vocals. Swift created a masterpiece on stage, flawlessly blending 10 albums of diverse genres in a perfect little puzzle and one cohesive performance. She mastered the little details, from the unique sets to the light-up wristbands that were synchronized with song lyrics to form distinct patterns in the crowds and the fitting choreography and surprise songs at each show, making each night a distinctive experience. 

The Eras Tour is  engaging for all senses with its impeccable production value that left no room for doubt in its ability to keep the audience engaged and enthralled. The years Swift took off from performing on stage paid off for the Eras Tour; which, in my mind, solidified Swift as one of the top performers and entertainers of this generation. 

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