Live Review: Taylor Swift The Eras tour at the Accor Stadium, Sydney 25.02.2024

Feature Photograph: TAS Rights Management

Last night I was at the Crowbar with a few hundred fans shooting a gig by the Japanese punk band, Shonen Knife. Tonight I find myself in Sydney’s Olympic Stadium with thousands of screaming Swifties. From the gritty charm of a pub to the dazzling spectacle of a stadium, the vibe shifts from an up-close punk encounter to a sweeping pop extravaganza. The two events have one thing in common, rabid fans who share a deep passion for the music of their respective idols, a commonality that transcends genre boundaries.

Tonight is the third of Taylor Swift‘s four sold-out shows in Sydney. Since she has been in Australia, the press and fans have been monitoring her every move. It made the news when she dined at an Italian restaurant in Surry Hills. The arrival of her boyfriend, Travis Kelce in Sydney was widely reported by the media. I wasn’t around for Beatlemania, but what we are witnessing around Taylor Swift, surely must be getting close to surpassing the Fab Four’s impact on popular culture.

A concert she is due to play in Wales forced a rugby international to be moved, her concerts in Melbourne in front of crowds of 96 000 people, were her biggest yet, there is even talk that she could sway the upcoming US election. Since her arrival in Sydney, journalists have been falling over themselves to try to explain her astounding success and dissect the phenomenon that is Taylor Swift.

Sabrina Carpenter is the support act tonight, she is warm and friendly and brings tears to the eyes of many when she sings ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You,’ Olivia Newton-John’s signature tune from Grease.

Around me are many mothers and young daughters. People are wearing funny T shirts, one girl has a T shirt on that says ‘We are never ever getting together again,’ it has a picture of (presumably) her ex emblazoned on the front and the back. Another wears a T shirt with a picture of Jake Gyllenhaal that has a cross through his face. All references to Swift’s songs and relationships. Except one, a guy has a T shirt on that says ‘Taylor Swift for President 2024.’

The excitement in the crowd reaches fever pitch as the lights dim and Swift emerges from huge, pastel petals the screams of the fans reach a decibel level that could have shattered glass, eardrums, and the sound barrier. And just like that, we’re whisked away into the enchanting realm of Swift’s first ‘Era.’

Swift comes across as very humble and seems genuinely in awe of the crowd of more that 83 000 people that have come out to watch her perform. She generously pays tribute to Sabrina Carpenter. She tells us that we are about to embark on an adventure that will span 18 years of her music. We will all be making memories tonight that we will carry with us forever, she says.

The set is visually stunning, at one point a video of a steam engine crosses behind Swift and I swear I can smell the soot of a train clogging up my nostrils. We are all wearing bangles with lights in them that come on and colour the stadium in hues that reflect the music and clothes that Swift and her dancers are wearing. At one point, Swift removes the sound monitors that she has in her ears so that she can hear the actual, unadulterated roar of the crowd, she seems genuinely taken aback and the cheers go on for minutes as she stands on stage, dressed in a gorgeous yellow dress and looking like an old style movie star, taking it all in.

For the third night in Sydney, Swift does mash ups playing a combination of ‘Is It Over Now? and ‘I Wish You Would’ from ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ to open the acoustic set, and then transitions into a combination of ‘Haunted’ from ‘Speak Now’ and ‘exile’ from ‘Folklore’. Hits like ‘Shake It Off’ are exuberantly received, but the crowd knows the lyrics to all the songs and joins in with great gusto, no matter the position achieved on the pop charts.

It’s truly amazing that the show runs for more than three hours, but no one tries to make a quick exit. Everyone is transfixed and on their feet, singing every word with Swift.

It’s mystical.

It’s beautiful.

It’s the power of music to unite.

Around me friends sing the words of Swift’s songs to each other and I realise that this is her superpower, the ability to write lyrics that resonate with so many, the ability to express emotions that target your heart with laser beam precision.

It’s a marathon effort and Swift never falters, her voice remains pristine throughout the entire concert. Her stamina is incredible-this is her third Sydney show and she has just come straight off a run in Melbourne. The concert runs for more than three hours, but all too soon it is over.

As we leave the gigantic stadium with a bubbly crowd, still high on Swifthoria, I reflect on another gig that I saw this week, Michael Rother of the Krautrock band Neu! a largely unknown band that went on to have a profound impact on electronic music and artists such as David Bowie and bands such as Joy Division, Depeche Mode, and Radiohead.

What will Taylor Swift’s legacy be? Will she continue to use her platform to advocate for artists’ rights, gender equality, and social justice, shaping public discourse and inspiring her fans to engage with these issues. I can’t wait to find out what lies ahead for this remarkable woman.

Feature Photograph and gallery: TAS Rights Management

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1 Comment

  1. […] kind of ironic to have Aaron Dressner performing in Sydney, just a few days after the Taylor Swift juggernaut has just passed through this city. I notice a few audience members wearing Taylor Swift T shirts tonight and I wonder if their […]

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