(Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone) “The Eras Tour takes fans through Taylor Swift’s incredible career”.
One of the largest pop culture events of the summer of 2023 has been pop megastar Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. The Eras Tour is themed as a musical exploration of each of Taylor Swift’s “eras”, which is how she brands each of her album rollouts.
Eras Tour is a two-year world stadium tour with 146 shows across five continents announced as of now. Each show is opened by one or two artists, from Paramore, Phoebe Bridgers, Muna, Girl in Red, Haim, Sabrina Carpenter, Beabadoobee, Gracie Abrams, Gayle, and Owenn.
When Taylor Swift began her show on August 3, the first of six nights at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, audience members were taken on a three-and-a-half-hour trek through 45 songs across all of her studio albums. She tackled each album in its own chunk, opening with “Lover”, through “Fearless”, “evermore”, “reputation”, “Speak Now”, “Red”, “folklore”, “1989”, surprise songs, and ending with “Midnights”.
Disappointingly absent was her debut self-titled album, a confusing overlook for a tour specifically branded as delving into all her musical eras. However, the existing ambition of the tour is not to be overlooked. Songs from her debut album still often pop up in her surprise song portion where she performs two different, random songs from her discography. At this show, she performed a “Speak Now” vault track, “I Can See You”, for the first time ever, as well as “Midnights” fan-favorite, “Maroon”.
The show opens with a portion of “Lover” album track “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince”. While opening what is essentially a greatest hits tour with a deep cut was an initially confusing choice, the lyric of “it’s been a long time coming” being looped to start her first tour in five years worked extraordinarily well.
This quickly transitions into “Cruel Summer”, which started the tour as a fan favorite album track and quickly became a smash hit due to its focal point in the setlist. The energy in the stadium was electrifying throughout the song, with the audience screams during the bridge occasionally overpowering the speakers.
Throughout the setlist, Swift showed an impeccable awareness of what the audience wanted to hear and what they did not want to hear. Instead of wasting setlist time on songs her fans hate such as the divisive “Lover” lead single “Me!”, she took the time to perform non-singles from her latest four albums that she was unable to individually tour.
Songs that she has frequently performed such as “Bad Blood” were only played in part so as to satisfy fans wanting to hear these smash hits while not utilizing too much setlist real estate on them. These decisions allow her to satiate all corners of the fanbase.
Swift brings a large stage to each show and makes full use of it throughout. She takes a large array of background dancers for her more bombastic cuts such as “Look What You Made Me Do”, while stripping it back and turning the focus to just herself during more emotional moments such as “All Too Well”. The stage is largely illuminated with visually diverse and interesting backdrops that align with the imaging of each era.
While Swift may not be the most objectively talented performer on tour right now in terms of choreographic capabilities and vocal delivery, she manages to command an excellent stage presence throughout her shows thanks to her propensity for the bombastic moments, keen visual eye and awareness of how to best utilize her skills. Raw skill only matters so far as how well each element is coalesced into a consistent show, and Swift manages to put together the experience of a lifetime.
While a three-and-a-half-hour-long concert risks lulling, Swift’s consistently strong discography, pace changes and consistent devotion to her craft results in the time soaring by much too fast. Even moments that should have been quieter such as costume changes and a five-minute-long applause after “evermore” fan-favorite “champagne problems” feel engrossing thanks to the fan energy in the stadium.
Stadium elements of concerts such as ease of entrance, merch lines,prices and ease of exit also impact the concert experience, but SoFi did an excellent job of anticipating the volume of the concert and providing a smooth experience. Giant lines outside of the stadium were quickly ushered in through their many entrances. Merch lines flew by thanks to attentive staff,a plethora of shopping locations and prices were cheaper than many of her contemporaries. An entirely new bus system was set up to usher people back throughout the state, making exit a breeze.
The Eras Tour is a moment in live music entertainment not to be missed thanks to Swift’s incredible setlist and performance prowess. While some setlist exclusions may disappoint, the amount she is able to accomplish in one night is unmatchable.
Overall Grade: A