Taylor Swift first appeared in the mainstream media at the tender age of 19, when she burst onto the scene with her classic country ballad Love Story. Since then, she’s released another four studio albums, and slowly progressed her style from country to a more poppier appeal. Her most recent and most successful album, 1989, is one of the highest selling albums of all times. Accompanying this, the 1989 World Tour kicked off back in May in Tokyo, Japan, and ends tonight (12th December) in Melbourne, Australia. Our reviewer, Ellipsis, went along to the Thursday night show, of one of the biggest tours in global history.
It is strange, the cross-section of society that you see at a Taylor Swift gig. Make no mistake, it is a crowd predominantly made up of young women. There has never been a shorter line for the male toilets in the history of public events. Fact. But there were a few groups of blokes, young and old (obviously only there as a “joke”), families, even elderly couples there to catch a glimpse of this planet’s reigning pop princess. And regardless of who it was, they were more than excited to be there.
Local Melbournian Vance Joy was a more than capable support act for such a big occasion, continuing to open for the 1989 World Tour through Australia after fulfilling the role throughout the North American leg of the tour. He treated the crowd to a few new tracks, as well as some real crowd pleasers from his debut album Dream Your Life Away. Not surprisingly, “Riptide” was met with the most “joy”. The crowd was very receptive to its homecoming star, having seen him grow from a shy ukulele-clad singer songwriter into a multi-platinum selling global star all in the space of two years.
As Vance and his band left the stage, videos began to play on the humongous screens either side of the stage. These included behind-the-scenes footage from Taylor Swift film clip shoots, bloopers, as well as studio footage showing the recording of the 1989 album. This was to set the tone for the remainder of the night. There was never a dull moment for the show. Fans were continually entertained, even when the stage was empty. Once “She Drives Me Crazy” by the Fine Young Cannibals (which was released as a single on 1 January 1989. Coincidence?) starting blaring across AAMI Park though, the crowd knew something was brewing and they were right.
Like the sun over Melbourne, the lights inside AAMI Park went down and Miss Swift appeared to the deafening shrill of around 30 000 punters. Like her 1989 album, Swift’s set was opened by “Welcome to New York”, setting the tone for what predominantly was a 1989-based show. Old favourites were dotted throughout the evening, but their change in style perhaps highlighted a subconscious distancing from the past by Swift. Old country classic, and her first global hit, “Love Story” was reworked with Swift playing synth on what was a far more electronic arrangement. “We Are Never Getting Back Together” was also reworked but with a much heavier sound as Swift, this time on electric guitar, generated a more distorted and heavy rock sound to the song.
The production of the show was second to none. Fans were given thick wristbands “as a gift from Taylor” upon entry which were used to magnificent fluorescent effect throughout the night. They flashed on cue in time with whatever song was playing at the time, adding a strong visual element to what was a polished audio offering. The stage team was complete with dancers, backing singers and band, all of whom worked with virtuosity and stealth, ensuring Swift was always well supported but never outshone.
The pneumatic stage was able to lift up and rotate anybody on it high up and out into the crowd, providing fans from all sides of AAMI Park the opportunity to get a better glimpse of the star they had come to see. It was from this elevated vantage point that Taylor treated the crowd to the reworked “Love Story”, as well as a touching moment of crowd input on “You Are In Love”, this time stripped back to just Taylor with an acoustic guitar, with the crowd singing the backing vocal part to Swift word and note perfect.
There was no encore or dead time on stage. Whenever the songstress and support team left the stage for a costume change, videos were played of Swift’s close friends like Selena Gomez and sister-trio Haim talking about Swift, the type person she is and her music among other things. This mimicked the no-nonsense opening to the show. The crowd always had something to watch or listen to and it is certainly something other artists could learn from. These ideas clearly aren’t revolutionary, but these videos in particular allowed fans to see another side of Taylor which, cynical commercial and image reasons aside, allows her fans to get to know their idol better and they were clearly very receptive to this on the night.
The full capabilities of the stage were shown off one last time for the piece de resistance, “Shake It Off”. The crowd rose as one to the familiar drumbeat along with the stage which was now elevated and extended right out over the floor which, together with its rotations, gave the AAMI Park crowd one last “close-up” look at Swift, this time performing her most famous work. The pyrotechnics to finish the show emphasised the crescendo that the show had now come to, bringing about an aptly colourful and loud ending to what was an incredibly colourful, loud but thoroughly enjoyable evening.
This review was written by Ellipsis.