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What we learned watching Taylor Swift live

The superstar rounded off her European dates with two London shows.

Across the weekend, international superstar Taylor Swift descended on London’s vast Wembley Stadium for the final two European dates of her current reputation Stadium Tour, set to continue into North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan before the year is through.

Bringing her 2017 album reputation to the stage, as well as occasional choice cuts from her previous releases, it was a true celebration of her newfound self-confidence. Defined by a gritty edge, and far removed from the polished persona of before, here’s what we learned from Taylor Swift’s triumphant domination of Wembley.


The old Taylor really is dead…

As fans eagerly anticipate the arrival of Taylor on the stage, huge video screens boom out clips of reputation in the making. One in particular places the fans at the forefront. The clip plays Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do video in full, accompanied by diehard fan reactions. Cue much shock and awe as Taylor Swift battles with versions of herself, before hands grasp mouths as she reaches the spoken crescendo: “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.” Why? “Oh, ’cause she’s dead.”

 

It’s a mantra that runs throughout Swift’s live performance. The sweet, shy, retiring country persona has vanished. Even when it does make an appearance for a rapid run-through of Love Story or a piano rendition of Long Live, her newfound fight remains firmly at the forefront. The setlist is taken predominantly from last year’s reputation as a clear decision to (excuse the pun) shake off a persona she has quite clearly outgrown.

The new songs sound huge

So adamantly waving goodbye to the foundations on which she has built herself would be a risk were it not for the sheer power of reputation‘s material. The thundering bassline of …Ready For It?, the show’s opening number, rattles the stadium – the volume cranked up high for ultimate effect. It’s a precursor for a relentless celebration of her new music, one where the new tracks sound more powerfully poignant than any of her chart-breaking smashes.

Arguably the biggest moments of the show are reserved for non-single album tracks. It’s the gritty synths of Don’t Blame Me and the (excuse the pun… again) driving melody of Getaway Car that pull out the biggest stops. The entire show ends on the understated This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things; fittingly a declaration of empowerment and independence. The entire show acts as the one step further from the bubbling emancipation of Shake It Off.

The production is spectacular

As if Taylor Swift’s songs aren’t big enough to drive the show forward without the need for glitz, the reputation Stadium Tour is filled with truly spectacular production value, from hearty pyrotechnics that can be felt at the very back of the stadium to rising snakes (yes, snakes) that reach towards the very top of the looming venue. There’s confetti, glitter and fireworks too, but ultimately everything is designed with an altogether darker vibe. The snake theme runs throughout the entire show, pulling parallels between the characteristic power, force and survival of the reptile and Taylor’s personal dominance. There’s a venomous bite to Taylor’s character and live performance, and it’s brilliant.

Taylor loves a special guest

Across both nights at Wembley Stadium, Taylor surprises fans with very special guests, from former One Direction and now solo artist Niall Horan to national treasure Robbie Williams for a well-timed rendition of Angels. Yet perhaps the biggest guests are her touring partners, London’s own Charli XCX (who balances precariously between a polished pop superstar and the gritty powerhouse Taylor has become) and the formidable Camila Cabello. As Swift literally floats to one of the platforms in the midst of the crowd, both join her for Shake It Off, cementing the tour camaraderie whilst simultaneously propelling the massive hit single into the present.

 

It’s genuinely empowering

Behind the polish of the stage show and the abundant melodies sits and individual who has without question mastered the art of reinvention. The cross-section of her devoted fans speaks testament to how far Taylor has come in recent years, many adorned by homemade Swift memorabilia. Taylor Swift has become more than a simple popstar, with a story, a message and a sound that actually means something.


Taylor Swift has now finished the European leg of her tour. Subscribe to her Ticket Alerts at Ticketmaster.co.uk to be one of the first to know when she’s making a return. For more from the world of music check out our Concerts and Tours Guide.

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