by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
'1989 WORLD TOUR'
I've never attended Comic-Con, or Sakura-Con, or any of those fan-driven conventions. But I have a feeling they're much like going to a Taylor Swift concert. Thousands of people show up, some dressed in quirky outfits, some wearing the artist's merchandise, and many holding personally-made signs - these folks put in money, time, and effort in preparation for this one night. Some drove up from Oregon, some made the trip down from Bellingham, and others zipped over the mountains from Eastern Washington.
And when the gates opened, every possible person streamed into CenturyLink Field, from parents harnessing toddlers on their backs to hand-holding couples on a date night to pods of Gay men who Uber'd it from Capitol Hill. The 'Swifties,' 60,000 of them, packed the sports stadium early and sat through a pair of opening acts, both forgettable (thus, I won't bother mentioning their names) and behind-the-scenes videos of Tay Tay prepping for 'The 1989 World Tour.'
Rather promptly, at 8:45 p.m., Swift opened the mega show with 'Welcome to New York,' a track from the superstar's latest multi-platinum album 1989. Wearing a purple zebra-print skirt, black bustier (both sparkly, of course) and silver sequined biker jacket, the tall and lanky phenom strutted a catwalk that stretched about half the length of the football field. The NYC theme continued with 'New Romantics,' as illuminated graphics of 'Broadway' and 'W 42nd St' hung from the stage rafters.
For 'Blank Space,' Swift changed into a black shorts-shiny black blazer combo and worked the runway like a pro, but it was the next song that was the highlight of the entire concert - at least for me. It was 'I Knew You Were Trouble.' It was a darker, edgier, more dramatic, and rock-tinged version of the pop song that included firebombs going off along both sides of the red-lit catwalk; it was thrilling! LED-rimmed umbrellas and Swift prancing around in a rosy pink ensemble spotlighted 'I Wish You Would,' while door props were cleverly intertwined with sharp choreography during 'I Know Places' featuring the singer sporting a white shorts-top outfit with thigh-high black boots.
'It is good to be back in Seattle!' exclaimed Swift looking out to the crowd. 'I played shows in Seattle for the last ten years of my life, at the Tacoma Dome and Key Arena,' she continued. Just to put that in perspective, four times as many people came to CenturyLink Field than Key Arena.
As a reward to everyone for coming to the show and cheering loudly, especially the pre-teen girls behind me who squealed uncontrollably from beginning to end, Swift vowed to bring out special guests at some point during the performance. There were rumors that Ed Sheeran would appear, possibly Macklemore, but it turned out to be MTV VMA nominee Fetty Wap, a New Jersey-based hip hop artist with a smash single currently on the charts called 'Trap Queen.' This set up a duet with him and Swift, which should've been off the hook, but instead was just shy of awful.
'Mean,' a big hit from the country-turned-pop artist's Speak Now record, was played acoustically, as Swift admitted she hadn't performed it in a while. As she strummed her guitar and sang, the catwalk rose to about 30 feet in the air and twirled slowly at 360-degrees; it was an impressive sight, though it should be noted that Justin Timberlake did something similar during his concert at Key Arena early in 2014. But that was Key Arena, and this was a damn soccer field! Tay also plucked out 'Love Story' from her Grammy-winning Album of the Year Fearless, though she tweaked it by giving it an electro-pop arrangement while tapping on a digital keyboard.
Russell Wilson and girlfriend Ciara were additional special guests introduced by Swift, who strolled the runway as the audience screamed with excitement. I'm a little tired of Ciara making the rounds, but I will never tire of seeing Russell Wilson in a pair of jeans; there's too much sexiness going on there.
For 'Bad Blood,' Swift was carried around the stage on a portable, transparent platform by her all-male dance troupe. Sadly, Kendrick Lamar's rap bit was trimmed from the live version. Everybody sang along to 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,' as the blonde star rocked out on an electric guitar. The grand finale was 'Shake It Off,' and instead of slipping into a cheerleading uniform, like she does in the music video, Swift opted for a frilly green skirt with matching top and large black belt, while all twelve of her dancers wore dapper grape-colored shorts with matching suits. It was playful, as it ought to be, and a series of colorful fireworks decorated the sky at the conclusion of the song as the runway twirled around and around.
The challenge of playing to a mass audience - in this case, 60,000 - is to give everyone, from the floor level to the nosebleed section, an experience that equals the value of their ticket and everything it took to get to the concert. Judging by all the happy faces and positive dialogue exchanged by fans exiting the stadium, and the long lines at the merchandise tables, I'd say Taylor Swift did an excellent job of entertaining the crowd. She performed for 2.5 hours with no extensive breaks or intermissions; there was an occasional video of celebrity gal pals fawning over her as if she'd been elected their sorority president, though I can probably let that slide. On the flipside, the LED bracelets that we received upon entering CenturyLink Field, which flickered in tandem to the music, was a brilliant addition to the show; watching a sea of blue, green, silver, orange, and red lights fill the stadium made for great scenery.
It was a spectacle, a dazzling show with a lot of high points, and love her or not, she's the only female artist in the world currently performing in sold out soccer venues. That, and she's only 25 years young.
'The 1989 World Tour' continues through mid-December with dates in the U.S., Singapore, China, and Australia.
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