By Laura Ord
Photography by Laura Ord
Is it blasphemous to compare a Taylor Swift concert to a church service? What if I do it on a Friday while surrounded by a sea of sequins and glitter? We always say there’s something spiritual in live music.
A choir of 70,000 people, the exchange of friendship bracelets like communion. You walk into Paycor Stadium, unsure of what to expect from Swift’s enormous tour production, before leaving baptized as a “Swiftie”.
There is no casual Taylor Swift fan. The multi-generational artist has two points of entry: you either grew up with her or you were born into it. As millennials, we hit life milestones alongside the artist, our heartbreaks and triumphs documented by particular albums.
Driving with the windows down singing ‘Our Song’ and thinking about your high school sweetheart in 2007. ‘Fearless’ documents your Freshman year in college. Half of our lives peppered with memories and Taylor’s lyrics.
Our friends have babies that are now tweens, who are developing their own attachments to the same songs we grew up with. It’s because of this deep connection, this parasocial relationship with Taylor, that she garners such visceral reactions from fans.
The production on this tour is unmatched by anything done before. Each Era earns its own elaborate set, beautiful transitions allowing fans to catch their breath between album selections during the three-hour long show, a catwalk so massive it takes up the majority of a football field in size.
The tour wardrobe is an entire production of its own, with Swift wearing more than 12 different looks throughout the course of the evening. Fans match that effort by wearing Taylor Swift cosplays, adorning elaborate outfits and customizing their own themed costumes.
Photography by Laura Ord
“I’m gonna play a song now that I wrote when I was 13”, Swift explains when introducing her first surprise song of the night, ‘I’m Only Me When I’m With You’. “I wrote this before I even thought I would ever have a first album, right? So it’s kind of like the self-titled debut era representation”.
“But it’s also, like, this kind of middle school era for me” Swift continues, “I was, like, 13 years old when I wrote this, and didn’t ever think I’d get to play a show for you that, like, 200 people would come to. So, this just takes me back and makes me so grateful to be here with you tonight.”
The song, a bonus track on Swift’s debut self-titled record, was a performance debut that had the entire Cincinnati crowd jumping in time with her. Surprise songs have become something special for this tour, a little piece of Swiftory that you share with that date’s attendees.
The second of the surprise songs was ‘Evermore’, the title track of Swift’s 2020 release. With Cincinnati being Aaron Dessner’s hometown, we expected an Evermore song - potentially even a surprise guest - but we were pleasantly shocked at the choice.
Over the course of three hours, Taylor, and her incredibly dressed fans, perform songs ranging from Country, to pop, to folk and Americana. It proves that Swift is an artist that simply cannot be confined to the boxes of genre, further proving that she is, undoubtedly, the voice of a generation.
Taylor Swift - Setlist
Taken from her headline set as part of The Eras Tour at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio on Friday, June 30, 2023.
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