Our entertainment writer dragged her feet to Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour concert but it turned out to be one of the best decisions she’s made this year
Taylor Swift has officially ruined concerts for me.
(Photo: AEG Live)
After the high-energy, super-charged and moving spectacle that was the opening night of her 1989 World Tour in Singapore, I now have sky-high expectations of performers.
The 25-year-old country-pop star knows how to put on a show, and not just to boast her sense for catchy beats and powerful, high-octave country-style ballads. She goes all out with a full-blown visual extravaganza, from elaborate props and stunning costumes to levitation.
I was never a fan of Taylor’s music but her show had me belting out lyrics I didn’t even know I had committed to memory. I suspect it had something to do with her impressive staging.
Aerial stunts and floating stages
Taylor’s enthusiasm for shaking it out with her fans was highly infectious. Making full use of the long stage that parted the crowd, she danced and strutted within arm’s reach of her frenzied followers. In a rock rendition of her hit song “I Knew You Were Trouble”, she dramatically dropped to her knees at the foot of the stage, backed by billowing smoke and a killer guitar riff.
But that was just the tip of the theatrical treat.
Taylor has never been one to shy away from blowing up metaphors. For example, in “Out of the Woods”, she likens her lover and her to “two paper airplanes, flying”. Lo and behold, her stage was promptly turned into a runway for paper planes.
At one point, while Taylor was boogieing out on the aisle singing “How You Get the Girl”, I turned to the main stage and realised that the streetlamp props were now suspended in the air, and the back-up dancers were twirling on them.
I looked back to Taylor again and discovered, with mix of shock and surprise, that she now stood on a floating platform that hovered over the audience, turning out a soulful acoustic rendition of her chart-topping debut single, “Love Story”. That was certainly an unexpected development.
Just when I thought Taylor couldn’t possibly top that, she showed that she could work the stage to her full advantage. Her grand finale, the irresistible dance number “Shake It Off”, raised the roof of the stadium — and not just because of its upbeat tune.
Not many people can move after being raised that high into the air. I know I’d be trembling in a curled-up ball. But there Taylor and her back-up dancers were, shaking away to a crowd dizzy with exhilaration.
As the song reached its climax, the platform started rotating and I began to fear for her life. Yet, she daringly unclipped herself from her support stand and walked the entire platform to wave to her adoring fans.
Now, that’s a tough act for entertainers to follow.
No beauty like a woman scorned
However, it wasn’t just the flashy theatrics that had me sold on Taylor.
It’s no secret that her songs lament her high-profile ex-lovers, which include the likes of (now defunct) One Direction member Harry Styles and legendary crooner John Mayer. In previous performances, Taylor has been known to dish out snide quips about her exes.
But this time, she opted to channel more positive vibes.
Before delivering “Clean” – her ethereal number on recovery and self-healing — she quietened the stadium with a heartfelt speech.
“We all go through the same kinds of self-doubt, fear and insecurities,” she spoke with a sincere gaze. “A lot of us prioritise the opinions of people who don’t know us or don’t care about us above the people who do. And I think we really have to work on that, guys.”
The audience cheered, and I felt that I personally connected to this artist. If she wasn’t a singer, Taylor could have a shining career as a motivational speaker. At this point, a fan in front of me — who was all decked out in a cheerleader’s outfit — turned around to wipe her tears.
Taylor continued, “You are not the opinion of those who don’t know or don’t care about you… The moment you can start to separate those opinions out, I think that’s the moment you don’t see those insecurities written all over yourself anymore. In that moment, you’re clean.”
Please excuse me while I turn around to wipe my tears too.
All grown up
(Photo: AEG Live)
Taylor has come very far from her Romeo-and-Juliet days. A bulk of her performance showcased a more mature and carefree personality; a development manifested in her latest album, “1989”.
Even as she strode down memory lane with older hits like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble”, she turned them out as fiercer reinventions. I was personally enamoured by her revision of the latter, which began with a dark and sinister undertone.
Ultimately, Taylor’s success lies in her ability to capture every emotional aspect of dealing with life, people and society. Right now, she seems to be in the phase of self-motivation and rediscovery, and that’s the feel-good vibe that made her show in Singapore so enjoyable.
By Pamela Chow
Top looks from Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour in Singapore
Besides giving her fans here an explosive performance, Taylor also worked the stage like a runway with her stylish outfits.
While we didn’t get to catch her in more elaborate coats and hats, there were a couple of looks we still loved. Here are our top favourites.
True to her red-lip-classic persona in “Style”, Taylor burst out in a shiny silver number for the song. While it may be borderline flapper-meets-ice-skater, we think she toed the fine line perfectly.
2. The power jumpsuit
A good jumpsuit will make any woman feel powerful, and one could tell that Taylor felt pretty empowered in this leather one-piece for her fierce staging of “Bad Blood”.
3. The layered cake
Like a layered cake, Taylor proved to be full of surprises. Right after her hard-hitting “Bad Blood”, she re-emerged on stage in this soft glitter-and-tulle gown for “Out of the Woods”.
Then, out popped the second layer of surprise: that wasn’t a gown, but an out-of-this-world, skin-tight and sparkling bodysuit.
I doubt this was part of her ready-to-wear collection, but don’t we have a little avant-garde in us all?