On a scorching summer night in South Philly, thousands of fans packed Lincoln Financial Field for The 1989 World Tour. With decorated Taylor tour shirts and light-up “1989” signs as far as the eye could see, the fanfare was in full swing. A few bars into her opening song, Taylor Swift greeted the sold-out stadium in perfect style – “Well, hello Philadelphia!”
Swift kicked things off with “Welcome to New York,” the first track from her latest platinum smash 1989. “I know we’re here in Philly but our journey tonight begins in New York,” Swift exclaimed. With huge street signs that read “42nd Street” and “Broadway” as well as lamp posts, park benches, and a backdrop of the New York City skyline, Swift transported the audience two hours north for a few minutes. For the third song of the set, Swift wasted no time dropping her recent smash hit single “Black Space.”
“Philly, you know how much I love you,” Swift lamented. “And you know how much I love surprises.” The crowd erupted. “I think I might have some surprises for you tonight,” Taylor hinted. And that she did. Midway through the set, Echosmith stopped in and Taylor joined them in a rendition of their mega-hit “Cool Kids.” A bit later on, during her performance of yet another hit single from 1989 – “Style” – Swift brought out supermodel Cara Delevingne and Emmy Award-winning actress Mariska Hargitay from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC). The two starred in Swift’s latest music video for “Bad Blood” along with a slue of other special guests. The three shared a brief reunion on stage as “Style” faded out.
Throughout the rest of her set, Swift dropped hits like “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “Bad Blood,” and a rocking version of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Her classic tale “Love Story” re-imagined into a nostalgic synth-pop requiem. While she sprinkled in some of her previous country hits, Swift made it clear that the focus of this tour is her new album and sound. Taylor did, however, stay true to her roots with a stretch during the set on a raised catwalk in the middle of the venue – just her and a Gibson acoustic guitar that was almost as gorgeous as she was (actually not even close, but it was an amazing guitar). Later, she closed out the evening with a thunderous performance of 1989‘s lead single “Shake It Off.”
Perhaps more important than the music itself was Taylor’s commentary in between songs. “I have to be honest with you, Philly,” she said at one point. “Philadelphia is one of the loudest crowds I ever play.” At the moment she said it, they proved her right. Things got pretty heavy at points. She spoke to fans about knowing their self-worth and believing in who they are; notions valuable for the many young concert goers to hear. Taylor is certainly wise beyond her years. Speaking about love, she said, “I wish it [love] were simpler.” Whatever happens in life, though, music remains constant. Swift stated, “No matter what, music will always be there for us.”
Taylor’s current tour is in support of her latest studio effort, 1989. The disc debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 last year. It sold just over 1.2 million copies in it’s first week, giving it the largest sales week for an album since 2002. Released in October, it quickly became the first album in 2014 to sell over 1 million copies. Swift worked on the synth-pop follow up to her 2012 platinum outing Red with renowned producer Max Martin (Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Katy Perry).
At just 25 years old, Swift has already sold over 40 million albums worldwide. Her singles have been downloaded over 100 million times. She’s garnered seven Grammy Awards, as well as twelve Billboard Music Awards, eleven CMA Awards, eight ACM Awards, and one BRIT Award. She as also extended her talents into film, with roles in 2010’s Valentine’s Day and 2014’s The Giver.
Taylor Swift began her career in country. In the midst of the massive success of her first foray into pop, Swift received the Milestone Award at the 50th Annual ACM Awards back in April. Before the release of 1989, she was already a superstar and global icon. But, no one stays the same. She needed to make this album to grow as both an artist and a person. On her self-titled debut album from 2006, there’s a song called “A Place In This World.” Despite all the packed stadiums and millions of records sold, I think Taylor is still looking for her place. Perhaps she doesn’t even have one? Maybe she’s meant to wear many hats; country, pop, and a little rock ‘n’ roll. However the cookie crumbles, it’s going to be a sweet ride for Swift. – by Matt Bishop