“The Eras Tour” Review: What if I Told You Taylor Swift is Truly a Mastermind?


Kaley Chun, Senior Staff Writer

Read Senior Staff Writer/Swiftie Kaley Chun’s review of Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” in Las Vegas and about the impact her discography has had on Chun.


Dear Reader, there is only one word that can describe listening to Taylor Swift on shuffle, and that word is chaotic. As the last chords of an upbeat pop track fade out, the next song could be anything: a slow, melancholy folk anthem, a banjo-heavy country tune, an electropop beat with synthesizers, or a devastatingly lyrical ten-minute ballad. So, when Taylor Swift announced “The Eras Tour,” a question loomed on fans’ minds. How would the intricate tapestry of Taylor Swift’s discography — spanning seventeen years, ten albums, and multiple genres — coexist in harmony for a single night?

Sixty-five thousand people waited in Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium on March 24, staring at a stage half the length of a football field and a giant clock on the screen behind it, its hands ticking closer and closer to midnight (it was actually about 8 p.m., but let’s use our imagination). When the clock struck 12, Taylor Swift’s voice echoed through the stadium, low and dreamlike: “It’s been a long time coming.”

Dancers with huge, billowing purple, pink, and orange fans emerged. They circled at center stage, then pulled back their fans to reveal the one, the only: Taylor Swift, dazzling in a sparkling white-pink bodysuit as she sang “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince.” Immediate elation replaced the months of anticipation that had been building in my chest, but this song also surprised me. It was not a single and had never been sung live before. I knew Taylor Swift would play her hits, but choosing this unassuming song from her sixth album “Lover” was her way of saying she would be playing her favorites, too. Next, Swift transitioned right into “Cruel Summer,” another non-single that has become a cult-classic, fan favorite with a bright chorus and a bridge made to sing along to.

After her opening songs, Swift addressed the crowd and told us she would be performing her albums one by one. Here was the answer fans had been waiting for: Swift would stage ten mini-concerts, each section containing its own beginning, middle, and showstopping end. The first of these eras came to a conclusion when “Lover”’s pink aura was replaced by falling sparks. With a quick change into a gold-fringed dress, Swift introduced the next era, “Fearless,” as well as a guessing game I would play all night called “What album is next?” The “Fearless” section was short, but Swift showed the nostalgic impact of her career through hits like “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me.” This was the first Taylor Swift album I ever listened to, and it felt like a full-circle moment to jump around in a stadium, singing the songs I had loved for so many years.

Alas, we can not remain in childhood forever. A forest emerged on the screen and tall evergreen trees rose from beneath the stage. This was “evermore.” Though it may not be my favorite album, it contained my favorite performance. Hooded figures holding glowing orange spheres danced along the stage, leaving behind artificial trails of fire in their wake as a cloak-donned Swift sang “willow.” Afterward, she settled at a moss-covered piano and sang “champagne problems”: a somber ballad about a rejected proposal. It was pure whiplash, moving from one emotion to the other so erratically … and that was before I knew what came next.

Imagine a bass so heavy it reverberates through your bones. Heels clicking on the floor, synths and drum machines, and a snake hissing as it slithers across the screen. These are the sounds of “reputation,” an album that has grown more relevant than ever with Swift’s decision to re-record albums produced under her old record label. During “Look What You Made Me Do,” Swift’s dancers dressed in iconic outfits from her past tours and albums, trapped in boxes as Swift pounded at them and sang “all I think about is karma.” “Rreputation” is one of the albums Swift will eventually re-record, as is the era she transitioned to next.

For her entirely self-written album, “Speak Now,” purple engulfed the stage, and Taylor Swift emerged in a sweeping pink ball gown. As she sang “Enchanted,” the lyrics formed a command, a chorus, and a reminder to the crowd: “This night is sparkling, don’t you let it go.” However, the moment the song was over, she once again left the stage. Would I have liked one more song from “Speak Now,” considering it is my favorite album of all time? Sure. Unfortunately, it is not an album Swift owns yet, and thus we move on.

The question of which era came next did not require much guesswork once a dancer appeared wearing red. “Red” is an album of contrast, with one side composed of ultra-popular hits like “22” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” These are fun songs to sing along to, but were not the highlight of the night or even the era. That is because they exist on the same album as Taylor Swift’s best song, a little number called “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version) (Ten Minute Version).” And guess what — she sang the whole damn thing. Hearing it live felt like being punched in the gut by a snowstorm, and that is exactly what happened; as Swift sang “I still remember the first fall of snow, and how it glistened as it fell… I remember it all too well,” snow drifted down from the ceiling and filled the stadium with a thick emotional resonance.

There is no way to really recover from a ten-minute song like that, so you have to keep moving. Enter the “folklore” cabin. This set piece is a house with a large moss roof for Taylor Swift to sprawl across before skipping down the stage in a long flowing dress. One of the highlights of this era was an impassioned mash-up of “august” and “illicit affairs,” two of the best songs from the album. Don’t tell anyone, but when “folklore” was first released, I found it unbearably slow. It took time for me to dissect and comprehend its intricate lyrics, but it was all worth it when I got to scream words like “mercurial” and “clandestine” until my lungs burned.

In contrast with “folklore” was “1989,” an album with songs no one has ever had to study — who doesn’t know “Blank Space?” It’s an indelible mark on pop culture, and it was a joy to see Swift and her backup dancers swing around neon blue golf clubs. However, “Blank Space” is only one of many hits from “1989.” With every transition from “Style” to “Shake It Off” to “Wildest Dreams,” I kept thinking this was the biggest and best it would get. And yet, with a final bang, Swift sang “Bad Blood” as pillars of fire shot from the stage, warming a crowd that was already on fire.

By the end of the “1989” set, it had been almost three hours, and it was finally time to slow down. Sets disappeared, screens turned black and Swift stood alone at the end of the stage. At this point during each show, Swift plays two surprise songs. For me, the highlight was “Our Song,” the only song performed from her first album “Taylor Swift.” This song brought back memories of road trips, karaoke nights, and the grainy music videos I used to watch on an old iPod. “Our Song” was a fundamental part of my childhood and has stuck with me into adulthood, maybe because it is so crazily catchy. The crowd sang along with every word, almost drowning out Swift’s voice as she performed the way she had in 2007, just a girl with a guitar and a song.

The last album of the night was, of course, “Midnights.” This is an album with so many smash hits and broken records it’s hard to know where to begin… except you have to start with “Lavender Haze” — the album opener and tone-setter from the first line: “Meet me at midnight.” For this song, dancers wheeled out cloud setpieces, circling Taylor Swift as she sang her way through “Midnights.” Obviously, this part of the concert would be the longest, but once she played “Anti-Hero,” “Bejeweled,” and “Mastermind,” I was wracking my brain trying to figure out which track she would close with. What was even left?

The song I overlooked was “Karma.” As she had done with the opener, Taylor Swift once again subverted my expectation but made the right choice: “Karma” was an uplifting, fun end to a night spanning more than three hours, 44 songs, and every emotion that a human could possibly feel. As multicolored confetti shot into the air, Swift descended into the stage with a final thanks to her crew, band, and dancers. Bright lights immediately lit the stadium, snapping the crowd into action. Droves of fans dressed in costumes from every era pooled toward the exit.

It was late, and I knew I should join them. Instead, I sat. Why? Because my emotions were still swirling, I had just experienced the best concert of my life, and I wanted to live in that feeling of pure euphoria for a second longer.


Image courtesy of Seventeen Magazine