Better Than: Being trouble.
Something happens when Taylor Swift does nothing.
It doesn’t matter whether doing nothing follows dressing up and dancing like a hipster, or flying over the crowd (while singing) on an elevated platform, or just a good old-fashioned strut across the stage. That’s because when she pauses, stares out with her subtle, charming smile, she’s in complete control of the room. When that room seats 18, 711 people (and all of those seats are full), one can’t help but wonder: How the hell does she make this look so easy? Well, it’s a fairly simple answer. Taylor Swift was born to entertain.
Last night’s show at the Prudential Center had something for everyone. The two-hour set, not too unlike her latest album Red, touched on parts of the entire pop music spectrum. She gave us a little twang of Nashville country (“Holy Ground”). She aggressively broke down the wub-wub-wub of dubstep (“I Knew You Were Trouble”). She shamelessly led the year’s anthem break-up song (“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”).
With each rendition, she brought her overflowing, bubbling energy–along with a different set design and costume change. She dressed like a ringmaster and led a collection of dancers (some of whom were on stilts) around the stage. She pounded on lit-up drums that floated in the air. She sported skinny red jeans, a striped shirt, and crowd surfed. At times, the concert felt more like a Broadway musical or Cirque du Soleil, and everybody in the venue–from the 13-year-olds holding up the blinking, homemade signs to the 50-year-old parents cheersing their Budweisers–let their appreciation be known. Often the screams were so deafening that it was difficult to hear the actual music.
Like any 23-year-old, Swift is not afraid to tell you what she thinks about the Important Things in life. Between songs, she took a few minutes and shared inspirational stories of growing up and getting picked on. She’d go on to explain how the cycle of love works, and how we shouldn’t get down on ourselves because things will eventually “just work out.” She clearly recognizes her role model status, and encouraged fans to be themselves and not be afraid of mean people.
If this were any other punk-ass twenty-something telling you how to live your life, you might want to kick them in the face. But strangely, Swift’s preachiness doesn’t come off as arrogant, which speaks further to her endless appealing nature as a performer. The Red Tour, no doubt, has been orchestrated and choreographed down to the last sparkle on her bright red guitar. But, somehow, through the controlled presentation of it all, Swift remains genuine. Or, at least, it seems so. In a media reception prior to the show, she introduced herself as Taylor to each person and individually thanked them for coming. During the concert, she mentioned how she used to dream of performing at this level, but quickly followed with, “I don’t even think it looked this cool in my dreams, you know?”
Well, no, we don’t actually. But there’s a certain charm to Swift that makes you believe she means it when she says it. She’s audacious, but endearing; aggressive, but captivating; earnest, but not corny. Her brimming confidence radiates just as much as her innocence. With four albums in the bag at such a young age, can she continue to successfully walk this delicate line? That remains to be seen. But for now, let’s allow it, put on our football helmets, and stay.
Critical Bias: During the media reception, Taylor told me I am “very hip” because I live in Brooklyn.
Overheard: “MOM, GET ME SOME ICE CREAM!”
Random Notebook Dump: One of the guitarists looks exactly like Rod Stewart.
State of Grace
You Belong With Me
The Lucky One
The Story of Us
Everything Has Changed featuring Ed Sheeran
Everybody Talks (Neon Trees cover) featuring Tyler Glenn, lead singer of Neon Trees
I Knew You Were Trouble
All Too Well
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together