The first time I saw Taylor Swift I was seven years old. I discovered Taylor through the song "You Belong With Me", and a week later, I knew the lyrics to all of her songs. In 2010, when Swift released Speak Now my mom took me and my best friend to see the Speak Now tour at the Tacoma Dome. Now, 13 years later, Taylor’s songs are still as appealing and perceptive as they were from the first listen. As I grew up, the lyrics captured new meanings and the new songs narrated my childhood through my early adulthood, where I knew what I was feeling because of how Swift wrote about it. I share this feeling with many Swifties who have all grown up with, through, and alongside Taylor’s music.
The Eras Tour brings me, and my fellow Swifties, right back through that journey, As Swift traverses through all of her albums, she takes us all on a journey through her past, which is inevitably tied to ours. The tour coincides with Swift's commitment to rerecording and releasing albums 1-6 in order to own her own masters, calling them “Taylor’s Version”s and adding in cut songs from the vault. This makes the show even more personal, as we know that she is actively reclaiming much of the songs she is singing- with "Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)" having been released just two weeks ago. As Taylor revisits each album, one at a time, we journey through high school hallways, remote cabins, soaring castles, and vast cityscapes that characterize the eras.
Throughout the concert, Swift gives speeches and tells stories of how the albums came to be, and adds cheeky lead-ins to favorite songs. Swift invites her fans to feel everything with no shame. When she sings about heartbreak, we scream along, as the songs rip us apart and comfort us all at the same time. When she sings about love, we yearn to feel how she does, and when we do, we hold on tight to our partners. When she sings about youth and childhood, we relate to and remember those moments. Even non-fans who have found themselves at the concert with friends or family find themselves moved by the outpouring of emotion in Swift's lyrics, performance, and fanbase. As much as Taylor Swift is seen by her fans (72,000 a night), her fans are seen by her through her music, and the way she looks out into the crowd, as if she knows everyone else’s story like they know hers.
Certain fan favorites stand out- "Long Live", "All Too Well (10-Minute Version)", and "Mastermind" feel the most fan-oriented to me as she sings about and for us. Before playing “Long Live”, Swift says “This one’s for you guys” as she goes on to sing the first song she ever truly dedicated to her fans, belting the chorus:
“Long live the walls we crashed through/ How the kingdom lights shined just for me and you/ I was screaming, "Long live all the magic we made"/ And bring on all the pretenders/ One day we will be remembered”.
This moment of the show is one of the most powerful, as the crowds cry and sing along with Swift, feeling that very magic. "All Too Well (10 Minute Version)" is an extended version of the original track from the 2012 album Red, and was released on Red (Taylor’s Version) in 2021. This song is major to Swifties for a few reasons, first of all, we found out there was a longer version of the song in a Red-era interview, and since then, had been begging Swift online to release it. This song in some ways, marks our own voice as fans, and when singing along, provides the most intense catharsis possible as we all live out the heartbreak. In "Mastermind", a track off of Taylor’s most recent album Midnights, Swift sings:
“What if I told you I'm a mastermind? And now you're mine/ It was all my design/ 'Cause I'm a mastermind”,
As she points out around the audience, we know and she knows how much she has captivated us all these years, and it’s a cheeky reference to the jokes of Taylor Swift cults and cryptic easter eggs. Though all of her songs mean something special to us, these moments feel like direct ties between us and her
The production itself is magnificent, with intricate lighting, set design, costumes, and choreography to perfectly capture the feeling of each album. The band, dancers, and backup vocalists shine throughout in large production numbers, with other moments of the show featuring just Taylor on stage. For albums that have already been toured (Fearless through Reputation), the performances, sets, and costumes, are reminiscent of the original album tours, with a few new twists added in. These sets feel like mini history lessons, with references reminding us of 2010 trends and catchphrases. For the four albums that came out without a tour due to the pandemic (Lover, Folklore, Evermore, and Midnights), the concepts are completely unseen.
As an added bonus, each night of tour, Swift selects two songs from her catalog that aren’t on the setlist and plays them acoustically--dubbed by Swifties as “Surprise Songs” which are a highly anticipated moment of the show. Seattle Night One crowds heard “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” from Reputation, and “Everything Has Changed” from Red. Night Two listeners heard “Message In A Bottle” from Red, and “Tied Together With A Smile” From Swift’s first album Taylor Swift, which was incredibly exciting for long-time fans, though seemingly unknown to much of the crowd.
Along with cheering, screaming, clapping, and emotion, the crowd of adoring fans also has its own performance. Before Swift's set, fans find each other and trade homemade friendship bracelets with song titles, jokes, and references, creating an environment of joy and community amongst Swifties. The energy in the space is bubbling, and everyone is eager to share compliments and excitement. Many of these bracelets were also gifted to Lumen Feild Staff who wore them with pride. Swifties came adorned in sequins, glitter, and homemade costumes worthy of awards. The tradition of costumes referencing Taylor Swift songs and outfits dates back to early tours in which Swift’s mom, Andrea, selected Swifties from concert crowds for meet-and-greet “T Parties” with Taylor, so homemade costumes helped die-hard fans stand out.
These costumes continued to be a show in and of themselves, keeping audience members entertained with people watching before the openers Gracie Abrahms and HAIM took the stage. Gracie Abrhams opened up with Swift-esque singer-songwriter heartbreak songs and powerful energy. HAIM took to the stage just before Taylor, an incredible rock band made up of three sisters who are also Swift's best friends. Both performances were excellent and got the crowd even more excited about Swift's arrival.
The Eras Tour is an undeniable release of emotion and for 3.5 hours everyone is under Swift's control. For anyone who attended this tour, fan or not, it was not difficult to see why Swfit is so beloved. She works her magic on the crowd just as she did on me 13 years ago, making each and every attendee feel deeply understood.
When Swift is fearless, we all are.