BY TER STAFF
Opening night for Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated “Eras Tour” was one to remember. From the moment that 70,000 of Swift’s most loyal fans filled the sold-out stadium to watch the opening acts take stage to Swift’s headlining set which took fans on a beautiful journey through the last 17 years with a massive career spanning performance that lasted 3 hours and 15 minutes, the evening was years in the making and Swift made it well worth the wait and then some. Fans traveled across the globe to witness pop history, selling out hotels across the greater-Phoenix area and refusing to wait until the iconic singer-songwriter takes her tour to a city near them, and if you were there in person on Friday night, then you could certainly see why. Last evening was nothing short of magical for Swifties and general music fans alike.
The evening got started with a pair of opening acts that call Nashville home, rising star Gayle and pop-punk legends Paramore. Gayle gave an emotional performance of her hit single “abcdefu” and a cover of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” which both had the crowd singing along during her 8-track set.
Paramore’s set was high energy and featured a tribute to Taylor Swift, as lead singer Hayley Williams shared a story where she met Swift’s mom early into her career. Williams finished her story by saying, “I’m not sure (people) get how f*cking incredible (Taylor) is.” “We’re here witnessing history. Thank you for letting us celebrate Taylor’s career with you,” Williams continued. Paramore performed nine of their biggest hits with zero misses and was a perfect choice to get the crowd ready for what was to come.
Swift opened The Eras Tour with her Lovers Era, performing six songs from her 2019 LP “Lover,” and album which Swift never got to tour in its entirety due to the pandemic. The opening track of Swift set was a shortened but high energy of version of “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince,” which was quickly followed by the live debut of “Cruel Summer.” Throghout the first era of the evening, Swift also performed tracks like “The Man,” “You Need To Calm Down,” “Lover,” and “The Archer.”
After an impressively quick costume change, Swift performed a short-but-sweet 3-song set dedicated to her album “Fearless”. Starting with the album’s title track, Taylor also performed “You Belong with Me” and “Love Story”, the two biggest singles from the early album which have both withstood the tests of time. The next era was Swift’s “evermore” Era, during which she performed five songs from her second LP recorded during the pandemic. She finished the set with “tolerate it”, but not before giving fans some context over the album while also getting some laughs from the crowd. “We are currently in the middle of the evermore album, which is an album I absolutely love, despite what some of you say on Tiktok,” she joked. “And ever since this particular song was born I wondered what it might be like to scream sing it with you”, as she began to perform the “evermore” B-side “champagne problems” on piano for the crowd.
Following the beautiful mellow standouts from “evermore” things really turned up as snake imagery was played on the video screens for the 70,000 in attendance, foreshadowing that it was time for the Reputation Era. Swift came out with “Ready For It?”, which opened her Reputation Tour 5 years ago, and is as good of an opening track now as it was then. Swift continued with “Delicate,” “Don’t Blame Me,” and “Look What You Made Me Do” to finish the era.
Next up was the Speak Now Era, during which she performed “Enchanted.” The track was the only song performed from the album and just one of two eras that only had one song make the setlist. While many would have loved to hear more from the album, it was likely a necessary choice to make room from some of the new projects that have had less of a life on stage.
Next up it was time for the Red Era, which was perhaps the highlight of the massive 3+ hour performance. Swift performed songs like “22,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and “I Knew You Were Trouble,” all of which were big singles upon their release, but the true standout moment was when she performed the full 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” the special extended version from her Taylor’s version re-release of “Red”.
Swift spoke to the crowd before “All Too Well” to introduce the song, explaining how special and precious the Red album is to her. She was grateful for the way fans embraced the album when it came out in 2012 and never could have imagined what would happen a decade later, speaking on the success of “All Too Well”. “You don’t know how much that means to me,” Swift explained to the crowd. “So I wanted to perform one more song from that album if you have an extra 10 minutes to spare,” Taylor continued as the crowd went wild, preparing to hear All Too Well live in its entirety for the first time.
Swift followed 10 minutes of “All Too Well” with a 7-song set dedicated to her folklore Era. Complimented on the main stage with a cozy cabin with a eye-catching moss roof, Taylor performed some of the album’s best songs including “invisible string”, “betty”, “the last great american dynasty”, “august”, “illicit affairs”, “my tears ricochet” and finally “cardigan”, the lead single from the project.
And just as Swift complemented “evermore” with a change in tempo with “Reputation”, she did the same following “folklore” with her classic album, “1989”. The LP delivered some of her biggest and most successful Top 40 pop hits to date, and to celebrate the era, Swift opened the performance with “Style”, and then kept the momentum going with “Blank Space”, “Shake It Off”, “Wildest Dreams” and “Bad Blood” a timeless LP that had an endless amount of commercial singles.
Next Taylor performed a special acoustic version of “mirrorball”, circling back to the “folklore” Era and making Friday evening’s show a 1-of-1 performance for the crowd in attendance. After the acoustic track, Taylor continued the theme with the song that started it all, her debut single “Tim McGraw”, a timeless country record that in 2023 is older than many of those in attendance at the sold-out stadium.
Last but night least it was time for the “Midnights” Era, which was fitting because midnight was just less than an hour away by the time Swift finished the era with 7-tracks from her latest album. Swift performed tracks like “Lavender Haze”, “Anti-Hero”, “Midnight Rain” and finished with her track “Karma” which was the last song of the night, #44 of 44 for the epic performance.
Taylor Swift continues to amaze fans with her live performances, and the lengths that she goes to make her loyal fans happy is unprecedented. Her tour sold out in seconds, with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) on the outside looking in, wishing they got tickets to the tour. With ticket sales in the rearview, it’s easy to wonder what driving force is left over to make a show great. Maybe it’s the sincere mutual love she has back for her fans, maybe it’s her pursuit of excellence or perhaps it’s something else we can’t wrap our heads around, either way, Taylor Swift made sure that everyone left Friday night’s performance with their expectations exceeded. Whether fans traveled from Phoenix, Philadelphia or Portugal, Swift validated the lengths that fans go to see her perform in every room, big or small, that she’s performed in for the last two decades. The Eras Tour is the toughest ticket in live music this year, and it’s not even close, but if you love anything about her, you need to have a Taylor Swift show on your live music bucket list.