In all honesty, there is not much one can say about the amazing pop princess, Taylor Swift, that has not already been said -- but we'll do our best. If it were at all practical, we'd sum up the show in one word: perfection. Done, that's really all that can be said. But, just in case you missed out or just want to relive what made this concert so great, be sure to read on!
Friday night was one for the books as Fifteen Minute Media ventured out to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for the sold out, first night of Taylor's 1989 World Tour stop here in the Bay Area. Fifty thousand fans filled the seats of the newly-built stadium, more than half of them adorning very cleverly made signs (several complete with working Christmas lights). The other half was dressed in outfits inspired by Swift's lyrics, music videos and more. Our personal favorites included a sparkly, rainbow unicorn angel and the cheerleaders from the "Shake it Off" music video. One of the most impressive was a fan who put so much time and effort into his costume as he was dressed in a button down shirt with holes cut over his nipples, holding a blown up golf club, in a cardboard version of the car taken right out of the "Blank Space" music video. Honestly, kudos to everyone who dressed up, looking as cute as they all did! Note to self: tutus are a must for Taylor Swift shows.
Swift shared the stage with Shawn Mendes, who filled his set list with a wonderful cover of Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" and Vance Joy who performed his hits; "Mess is Mine," "Riptide" and a beautiful rendition of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me." A short intermission set us up for what we could not be prepared for at all. Taylor welcomed us to her show with an overwhelming amount of energy. Lights were flashing in every which direction, courtesy of both her stage lighting and the bracelets that were taped to the seats of the stadium (bracelets that were in sync with her show, lighting up appropriately in an array of colors to reflect the songs playing! Too cool!). The massive backdrop displayed the streets of New York with flashing Broadway street signs as Taylor hit the stage in her sparkly outfit and sunglasses. The show began with the upbeat "Welcome to New York" and continued on that high energy through "New Romantics." That energy stopping only for a brief moment so she could catch her breath as Taylor showed us just how adorable we already knew she was. She danced down the catwalk addressing the fifty thousand as her 'new friends' and squealing about how happy she was about it.
The stage was filled with props, Swift's band, and her amazing dancers as they told us a story through each and every one of her songs. The men performed a dance similar to the 2014 American Music Awards performance during "Blank Space" with huge picture frames covering the stage. The song ended that high energy as the stadium went dark and completely silent. Swift could be seen halfway down the catwalk, seated with her legs to her chest as she began singing very slowly into the microphone. We were lucky enough to hear a 1989 tour version of "I Knew You Were Trouble" that was significantly slowed down, making the once smash hit a very powerful, almost dark version of the pop song we all love. This alone was such a remarkable display of Swift's talent as she completely changed the composition of her pop hit, turning it into something completely new, exciting and even more meaningful than the story already behind the track. Her vocals were solid, her voice booming through the stadium, the lows and highs seamless and leaving us completely in awe.
The show picked right back up with "I Wish You Would" which ended with a remarkable guitar solo. Then the stage was transformed into a scene taken from 'Singing In The Rain' as illuminated umbrellas twirled underneath dancers and Swift appeared, looking flawless in a pink, lit up crop top/maxi skirt combo for "How You Get the Girl." Taylor made a quick outfit switch and the umbrellas were tossed aside for huge silver doors for Swift and her dancers to hide behind. She took a moment to tease the crowd -- telling us that if we kept up with our singing every word to every song and the high, positive energy, she'd have to bring out a very special guest for us. Swift offered no hint as to who it could be as she went right into "I Know Places," dancing up and down the catwalk again, followed by the doors opening and slamming perfectly in sync with the lyrics to the song.
The music stopped and Taylor explained the beautiful blue two-piece outfit she was wearing, telling us that it was borrowed from a friend of hers, one that just might come out to surprise us all! I guess that cancelled out the chances of it being Calvin Harris, right? But Taylor kept up her end of the bargain as Fifth Harmony took the stage, joining Taylor for an amazing performance of "Worth It" featuring Taylor singing and dancing as though it were always actually Sixth Harmony. These girls definitely didn't disappoint as the night's special guests as everyone in the stadium sang and danced along.
Halfway through the show Taylor slowed things down, telling us a story about a fan she had spoken to early at the day's meet and greet and how this was the part of her show where she liked to get intimate with the crowd. She explained how she often switches which songs she performs midway and how the one that was suggested (at the meet and greet) for tonight was a song she wrote over ten years ago. We were blessed with a beautiful acoustic version of "Should've Said No" that then bled into a story about how the next song, "Clean," was written as Swift struggled to come from a bad place, with the help of Imogen Heap.
The rest of the night played out like a fairytale (pun intended). Taylor performed a pop/EDM-influenced version of "Love Story", which she explained she wanted to make it seem as though the track fit perfectly with those off of the tour's celebrated album, 1989. Chart toppers, "Style" and "Bad Blood" were played back to back, leading up to a very hard-hitting, rock version of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together", which Swift played electric guitar for. After a very brief break for Taylor (where we were able to watch snippets of her friends, including Lena Dunham, Selena Gomez, Haim, Karlie Kloss, Jaime King and more) the stage was set up with the most beautiful piano that looked almost like flowing water. A mash-up of "Wildest Dreams" and "Enchanted" was performed that definitely brought tears to a lot of eyes -- we overheard several excited fans, upon shuffling out of the stadium after the show, explain how this was definitely the icing on the cake. The song was definitely intimate, beautiful and everything you would expect to end a show with. But that wasn't the end for us.
Taylor came back out on stage for an encore, performing "Shake It Off" and encouraging everyone in the stadium to get up and dance. The show was closed out with an amazing display of fireworks, both over the stage and stadium entirely. Taylor was definitely shaking in her green, tassel-y dress, looking absolutely as breath taking in the final seconds of her performance as she did when she first hit the stage. The band continued to play the beat of the song with the most impressive guitar solos as Taylor thanked her fans and highlighted everyone who joined her on stage, giving thanks to Fifth Harmony, Shawn Mendes, Vance Joy, her band, dancers and back up singers, leaving no one behind.
It was definitely bittersweet for the show to come to an end. Two and a half hours of Swift and it still wasn't close to enough. Although fans came for the music, we were left with so much more than that. Taylor's show included a beautiful insight to her album, 1989, as told by her friends in the short interviews that aired between songs. In addition to her friends, Taylor also gave several very touching, inspiring speeches during her set. She empowered us all as she told us how much we were worth -- how not to take anything but solid 'yeses' or 'nos' from anyone in life. How 'I don't knows’ and 'maybes’ are not acceptable answers from anyone you give your attention or affection to. To kick someone to the curb if they don't want to be with you and how it is most definitely their loss. She explained how much we, as fans, mean to her and how the support of her fans over the last ten years are what took her to where she is today. She thanked us for our trust in her, explaining how she has been lucky to be able to share her stories, the good and bad experiences, through her songs and how important it is that as fans, we are comfortable enough to trust and talk to her ("real talk," as she called it) about our own experiences. Swift gave us the most beautiful and devastating truth about happiness and how it is fleeting, how quickly it can come and go. Swift explained how afraid she is, to lose us (which she emphasized, "us" as friends and not simply fans), for people to decide she isn't cool or dances funny or feed off her insecurities but how important it is to identify moments that make you truly happy and how, Friday night was one of those moments for her. Well, Taylor, Friday night was definitely one of those moments for us too. This was a show that definitely will not (and could not) be forgotten.