At the first of her three shows this weekend at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, May 26, Taylor Swift received, perhaps her loudest and longest cheering of the night after “Champagne Problems.” But I suspect the response had more to do with what she said before the song, than the song itself.
“In terms of connecting with you, as a crowd, this tour has completely redefined that for me,” she said, sitting at a piano. “And I really, really missed you! I haven’t gone on tour in five years. And, you know, when the pandemic was happening … the music industry was always talking about, ‘Will there ever be stadium tours again? Will artists get to connect in that way, on that scale, ever again?’ …
“I’ve been writing songs and playing them live since I was 12. And this is the way that I process stuff. I make music, and then I sing it with you, and when you sing along, I feel good.”
The pandemic may have delayed the Eras Tour that this show was part of. But it also made it what it is. Swift released five albums during the pandemic: Folklore, Evermore and Midnights, plus re-recordings of Red and Fearless. And for the tour, which began in March and is currently scheduled to end in August, she came up with the idea — possibly unprecedented in pop history — to spotlight all 10 of her albums, with discrete segments devoted to each one, and elaborate visual productions for nearly every song.
This is Swift’s everything everywhere all at once tour: She has taken all that pent-up performing energy from the lockdown and is channeling it onstage. And her fans have responded enthusiastically: She is playing multiple stadium shows at every tour stop, and routinely selling them out.
It’s the kind larger-than-life popular music “event” that you rarely see anymore. Even Gov. Murphy has tried to get in on the action, declaring the “Taylor Swift ham, egg and cheese” as the state’s official sandwich this week.
The first night at MetLife, which benefited from near-perfect stadium show weather (not too cold, not too hot, and no rain), lasted more than three and a half hours (not counting the opening sets by Phoebe Bridgers and Gayle) and featured a whopping 45 songs (though some were in truncated form). There were many other dancers and musicians onstage, plus frequent set changes and videos to look at, and lasers and confetti, and lots of moving around from the main stage to two smaller stages on the stadium floor. Swift performed with unflagging enthusiasm and energy — and, except for her costume changes (one for each album segment), the focus was nearly always on her.
This was not a show with a lot of long guitar or piano solos or, really, much of anything to give Swift a chance to catch her breath. It represents an impressive endurance feat for its star, as much as anything else.
Though the album segments were not arranged in chronological order, this show did echo the path of Swift’s career, somewhat, with her breakthrough singles “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story” performed back-to-back, for an epiphanal moment early in the evening; her commercial peak, with mid-2010s 1989 singles “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space,” “Bad Blood,” “Wildest Dreams” and “Style,” represented about three quarters of the way through the show; and eight songs from her late-2022 release Midnights closing it out.
Though she has been performing the same 43 songs in every setlist on this tour, she smartly leaves two slots, prior to the Midnights segment, open for songs that she is not otherwise performing. So every show is different. On May 26, these songs were a solo-piano version of the New York-set “Maroon” (from Midnights) and “Getaway Car” (from 2017’s Reputation), with guest guitar-playing and backing vocals from the song’s co-writer and co-producer, Jersey guy Jack Antonoff.
Bridgers returned to the stage to join Swift for “Nothing New.” And in another surprise, Swift premiered her new video for her current single, “Karma,” showing it on the stage’s large video screen and watching it along with her dancers (the video, featuring rapper Ice Spice, was released online at midnight; you can see it HERE). Then, about 45 minutes later, Swift welcomed Ice Spice herself onto the stage to perform the song live, as the show-closer.
While introducing the video premiere, Swift was effusive in her praise of Ice Spice, a 23-year-old New Yorker who hit the Top 10 this year with “Princess Diana” and her “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” collaboration with PinkPantheress.
Swift said she was listening “pretty much exclusively” to Ice Spice when getting ready for the tour. She also said that after working with Ice Spice in the studio, she came to the conclusion that “she’s the entire future. I’ve been around so many artists, and so many artists that are starting out, but I’ve never been around someone who is that prepared and curious and focused on what she wants. So I was absolutely blown away.”
Here is the show’s setlist, with some videos and a photo gallery below it. As mentioned above, some songs were performed in truncated form.
“Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince”
“You Need to Calm Down”
“You Belong With Me”
” ‘Tis the damn season”
“… Ready for It?”
“Don’t Blame Me”
“Look What You Made Me Do”
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
“I Knew You Were Trouble”
“Nothing New” (with Phoebe Bridgers)
“All Too Well”
“The Last Great American Dynasty”
“My Tears Ricochet”
“Shake It Off”
Video premiere: “Karma”
“Getaway Car” (with Jack Antonoff)
“Karma” (with Ice Spice)
Swift performs again at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. (with Phoebe Bridgers and Gracie Adams) and May 28 at 6:30 p.m. (with Bridgers and Owenn). Visit ticketmaster.com. And click HERE for logistical information (transportation and parking details, etc> for the shows.
Here is a gallery of photos from the show:
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