Live Review: Taylor Swift – Liverpool, 13.06.24

Photo credit: TAS Rights Management

Scarcely has the prospect of a person standing on a stage and singing their songs generated the kind of excitement and anticipation that has enveloped the UK lately. But then, that person isn’t always the pop colossus that is Taylor Swift, nor the songs part of the biggest concert tour in history.

Having hit the road in March 2023, the Eras juggernaut rolls into Liverpool, the town awash with Swifties who have plenty to enjoy around the city to sate their desire for Taylor-time, even before Anfield’s famous stadium gates open.

Liverpool has become Taylortown. The iconic St George’s Hall is transformed, signs declaring “Liverpool Loves Taylor” adorn the lampposts, and there craft workshops where fans can decorate anything from tee shirts (Swif-tee) to cupcakes to show their devotion. That’s on top of a city wide trail of art installations – a Taylor trail – chronicling each Swift Era to keep the faithful satisfied until Thursday night. 

As we approach Anfield for the opening night of 3 in the city, and the 100th show of the tour, there is a palpable buzz. Despite the rain, Swifties hurry across every road, huddle together under ponchos as they wait to meet friends while others make new acquaintances, swapping bracelets in the queues.

Inside the stadium, the fervour continues. We are surrounded by cowboy hats, boots, homemade versions of era-defining costumes. Some are Swift show veterans, while others have been brought along for the first time. Alongside us, stood a couple, one of whom sported a homemade t-shirt stating he was “Swiftie in Training”. He was about to experience the power of Taylor Swift for the very first time.

The show itself is a 45-song extravaganza, guiding us thematically through Swift’s different eras, from curly-haired country newbie to the folk-pop of latest double album The Tortured Poets Department.

It’s a huge production, and the vast stage set is designed to allow Swift to connect with as many fans in the stadium as possible. At 19.49, the clock on the giant screen counts down to “midnight” and through the smoke, Swift rises from the centre of the diamond section of the stage, high above the crowd, in the first of her 16 spectacular outfits. 

Photo Credit: TAS Rights Management
Photo Credit: TAS Rights Management

“Oh, hi!”

It’s almost like she’s surprised to see us, but it immediately draws us in. It breaks the ice, and we instantly connect like – oh hey, it’s only the biggest pop star on the planet! Just for the avoidance of any further doubt, she introduces herself – “My name is Taylor”

Once we were all introduced, we powered through the Lover Era, into Fearless, we’re all still catching our breath, when we move into the Red era. This begins with Swift in a self deprecating t-shirt asking “Who’s Taylor Swift Anyway? Ew.” – a line from the opening song of this era, 22 – swapping a bracelet with a young fan at the very end of the huge runway.

There’s a lovely moment in here where Swift reveals how all-consuming a tour like this is. “I used to have hobbies,” she tells us, standing alone in the centre of the diamond. “I can’t remember what they were!” Her down time now is spent thinking about the show, how to connect more, how to ensure it hits all the right notes for the faithful.

Photo Credit: TAS Rights Management

It’s clearly time well spent. Each era is more emphatically greeted than the next. We hop from the shimmering ballgowned beauty of Enchanted to the darker, more dramatic Reputations. The Folklore record, written in lockdown, introduces fictional characters alongside Swift’s usual “dear diary” style, and accordingly the backdrop is a fairy-tale style cottage. She climbs onto the roof for a shortened version of Cardigan, again, ensuring she is visible, and connected, to as many as possible in the stadium. 

After champagne problems (from Evermore), the noise was deafening. Swift removes her in-ear monitors to take this in and seems quite overwhelmed by the cacophonous reception she’s receiving. I doubt there’s ever been a sound like that inside Anfield, even at the height of their fanatical European nights under Jurgen Klopp – who incidentally, was in attendance. 

The “surprise songs” section, delivered acoustically at the end of the runway, has become a hotly anticipated section of the show. We were treated to a I Can See You / Mine mashup on guitar, followed by a real treat of Cornelia Street / Maroon at a beautifully decorated upright piano. Even after 3 hours, Swift’s voice is still flawless, just singer and a single piano, captivating the crowd.

Photo Credit: TAS Rights Management
Photo Credit: TAS Rights Management

As we move through Midnights towards the end of this marathon set, I look around the stands, illuminated by the wristbands we’ve all been handed as we enter the stadium. This is more than just a concert. More than just a tour. It feels like we’re part of a hugely significant moment. 

It’s a quasi-religious experience. There is utter devotion to the cause. Screams and hysteria that this city won’t have seen since the days of Beatlemania. 

We have witnessed a bona fide cultural icon, dictating the experience and creating a space where a communal, wholesome atmosphere is readily and happily shared. Fans have turned up in their costumed droves – each representing their preferred era without fear of judgement from those around them. Bracelets are swapped, stories shared, connections made. In true Liverpool FC style, you will never walk alone at a Taylor Swift show.

And it’s all created by the one person, who has unmatched star power right now. An artist who can deliver a greatest hits tour while still at the pinnacle of her considerable influence. And, who better to describe this effect, than Taylor herself:

“When I walk in the room
I can still make the whole place shimmer”

Set List:
1. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince
2. Cruel Summer
3. The Man
4. You Need to Calm Down
5. Lover

6. Fearless
7. You Belong To Me
8. Love Story

9. 22
10. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
11. I Knew You Were Trouble
12. All Too Well (10 minute version)

Speak Now:
13. Enchanted

14. …Ready For It?~
15. Delicate
16. Don’t Blame Me
17. Look What You Made Me Do

Folklore / Evermore:
18. cardigan
19. betty
20. champagne problems
21. august
22. illicit affairs
23. my tears ricochet
24. marjorie
25. willow

26. Style
27. Blank Space
28. Shake It Off
29. Wildest Dreams
30. Bad Blood

The Tortured Poets Department:
31. But Daddy I Love Him / So High School
32. Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me
33. Down Bad
34. Fortnight
35. The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived
36. I Can Do It With A Broken Heart

Surprise Songs:
37. I Can See You / Mine
38. Cornelia Street / Maroon

39. Lavender Haze
40. Anti-Hero
41. Midnight Rain
42. Vigilante Shit
43. Bejeweled
44. Mastermind
45. Karma

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