Taylor Swift, British Summer Time Hyde Park, 04/06/15
There’s a quiet poetry to Kanye West’s divisive Glastonbury headline slot taking place on the same evening as Taylor Swift’s show at London’s Hyde Park.
Beyond the stage invasion that once defined them both, we’re now at a place where they both embody a bold new world of pop; where the individual is more influential than the scene. Kanye may have the world watching but Taylor Swift is surrounded by 65,000 of her friends and that comfort showed.
Taking to the stage fifteen minutes early, Taylor lays out the welcome map and let the capacity crowd into her world. Welcome To New York, New Romantics and Blank Space get things off to a celebratory start, while the fiery power of I Knew You Were Trouble is amplified through thousands of voices.
Pausing between songs to recite fairytales and life lessons, Taylor Swift might have ditched the folk aspect of her music but her ability to enchant people with a story still stands strong. With the moral of the story being self-belief, Taylor’s show at Hyde Park is an empowering affair.
As she inspires, Taylor struts, flicks and smirks her way through a 1989-heavy set. Fifteen of the eighteen songs played are from the 2014 masterpiece, yet the show feels whole. Taking on a stage so grand with such disregard for the classics is a move so assured, few artists would dare it. Yet Taylor Swift has always done things her way.
The stage show is theatrical and shines under the setting sun but it’s the beaming smile, part disbelief part knowing confidence, that Taylor wears as she gazes out into the never-ending mass of people that really makes tonight special.
There’s video interludes featuring famous friends – Lena Dunham, HAIM, Selena Gomez – that verge on crass but under the umbrella of solidarity and empowerment, it’s just another layer to the careful construct of Taylor’s infectious brilliance.
From the heartfelt This Love, through the hopeful, Out Of The Woods, until the generational anthem of Shake It Off, tonight is an influential triumph led by someone unafraid to do whatever they want. There are dancers, costume changes and light up wristbands but the crowd of British Summer Time at Hyde Park are looking at “The World’s Greatest Living Rock Star.” Sorry Yeezus.