w/ Camila Cabello, Charli XCX
Santa Clara, CA
May 11th, 2018
Photos and review by Jared Stossel.
A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to review Taylor Swift's '1989 World Tour' when it came through the same exact venue in Santa Clara. I really didn't think that particular tour could be topped, given how powerful that record was doing on the airwaves and the Billboard charts. Swift is one of the few elite pop-stars that can do stadium tours and sell them out months in advance, but she had been away for some time after the touring cycle for 1989 had concluded. No one knew if she'd be able to top it.
Taylor Swift's Reputation World Tour made its stop in Santa Clara, CA yesterday evening at Levi's Stadium, for the first of two completely sold out shows set to take place in the Bay Area this weekend. Only two songs in, and I could easily say that the 'Reputation' tour far and beyond exceeded my expectations based on what I had seen from Swift back in 2015. While the 1989 tour was a great deal of fun, this new iteration of Taylor Swift, the "this is who I am, take it or leave it" version of Swift who wrote the darker, candid pop tracks that appear on 2017's Reputation, is a lot of fun to watch perform. The theatrics for the 'Reputation' tour were even grander than that of 1989 tour, with set changes that included a working fountain, a giant king cobra snake that towered over the stage (during one of the evening's supreme highlights, "Look What You Made Me Do"), confetti, pyrotechnics, and one of the most elaborately constructed stages I've seen in a concert setting. While you can still tell that it's Taylor Swift, the one that we've known and watched grow as an artist for many years, you can tell that something has changed. And it's awesome.
Adorned in an all-black outfit, the massive stage parts down the middle at the beginning of the show to reveal Swift as the opening, powerful notes of "...Ready For it?" echo throughout the 55,000 seat stadium (that is, if you can hear them through the massive amount of cheers coming from fans throughout). Halfway through the entrance number, a dozen dancers make their way on stage, backing up Swift every step of the way, with engaging routines in nearly every song. "I Did Something Bad" turned the stage into a full-on pyrotechnic factory, with fire shooting out of the top of the structure and fireworks shooting off to accent each chorus.
A popular characteristic of Swift's set yesterday evening involved the usage of mash-ups, where she would take a song from her catalogue, start performing it, and then combine it with another. "Bad Blood" was mixed with "Should've Said No". "Style" was combined with "Love Story", which then led into "You Belong With Me". Surprisingly, this worked incredibly well throughout the night and it didn't sound forced. It can be hard to do a mash-up with a combination of older material; I've seen many acts try and fail, but it works well with a Taylor Swift performance, particularly one of this scale.
Another incredible aspect of this tour is how intimate Swift tries to make the show. It's a massive venue, but about halfway through the show, she boards a light-up suspended carriage that glides over the crowd to a second stage at the back of the stadium, where she performs a high-energy rendition of the 1989 hit, "Shake It Off". She's joined onstage by her tour openers, Camila Cabello and Charli XCX (who both gave absolutely brilliant performances earlier in the evening to kick things off) to help her out, and it's a performance filled with choreographed dance numbers, giant inflatable snakes, and confetti that pours into the crowd. Swift then stays put to perform acoustic renditions of "Wildest Dreams" and "Dancing With Our Hands Tied". At this point, she walks through the crowd to an adjacent stage on the opposite side of the stadium to perform "Blank Space" and "Dress" before riding back in a chair that's been shaped out of a giant snake skeleton.
Towards the end of the night, Swift takes a seat in front of a gorgeously built grand piano to talk to audience, reminisce about her time in music and how much her fans truly mean to her. She performs "Long Live" and "New Years Day" at the piano in a quite beautiful moment, and one that showed just how genuinely happy she is to be doing what she is doing.
The show concludes with a brilliantly stunning performance in the form of a mashup: "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (from the massively successful Red) into "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" (from the massively successful Reputation). A cavalcade of fireworks top off the evening's festivities, bringing the first night of Taylor Swift's Bay Area residency to a close. Fans poured out of the stadium into the streets, walking away not only unbelievably satisfied by an incredible show, but hopefully with the knowledge that they just witnessed one of the queens of pop music rightfully take back her spot at the top of the throne.
Taylor Swift Setlist
...Ready for It?
I Did Something Bad
Style / Love Story / You Belong With Me
Look What You Made Me Do
King of My Heart
Shake It Off (with Charli XCX and Camila Cabello)
Wildest Dreams (Acoustic)
Dancing With Our Hands Tied (Acoustic)
Bad Blood / Should've Said No
Don't Blame Me
Long Live / New Year's Day
Call It What You Want
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
This has been another Shameless Promotion.