Live Review: Taylor Swift // The Eras Tour at Wembley Stadium, London 21.06.24

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Growing up is a process that is perceived as scary or intimidating by most. Since I was a little girl, I have always found it daunting. But I have never really stopped and looked at how my life has played out, never really had the chance. So I can’t help but wonder how Taylor Swift feels to bare almost all of her personal and musical growth for over three hours in front of 90,000 people every night. 

The atmosphere once we walked inside Wembley Stadium was electric; glitter tops and cowboy hats were visible at every angle of the bleachers and the pit was a sea of colour. Once settled in my seat, a clock appeared on the screen behind the stage and something in the air changed. As the minutes became seconds, the sun also started to set behind the stage, making the atmosphere even more impactful. With the last 5 seconds running out, a parade of dancers waving purple petal-like flags came out, right before Taylor herself took to the stage. ‘Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince‘ started playing, kicking off the show and the Lover era. We are at the Eras Tour after all.

The first half of the show flew by, with the crowd singing along to some of Swift’s most famous singles, such as ‘Cruel Summer‘ and ‘Lover‘. Out of all the phases of the show, the Fearless era has remained impressed in my mind. The serotonin that the first guitar notes of the title track release is unmatched, transported me back to my teenage years screaming “I don’t know how it gets better than this!!!”,  and I am pretty sure everyone else around me felt the same. Cowboy hats and all. After witnessing a proposal on my same row during the iconic ‘Love Story‘ line “Marry me Juliet”, Swift came back out in a red sparkly gown for the Red era. And we all knew what was coming. 

After flawlessly performing the penultimate song from this era, ‘I Knew You Were Trouble‘, and making the whole stadium dance and scream, the atmosphere shifted again. The glorious and 10-minute-long ‘All Too Well‘ began and it brought back everyone’s heartbreaks, memories and perhaps a little childhood naivety as well. Stationed on a pedestal in the middle of the massive stage, surrounded by nothing apart from a couple of backing singers and the astonished faces of her fans, Taylor Swift reminded everyone what it felt like to be in love. There’s no love without pain and, unfortunately, most of the time miscommunication is the death of it all. But who knew that someone could make heartbreak feel so homely?

As the audience were recovering from this, the magical ‘Enchanted‘ took possession of the stage with Swift changing into yet another gown; this time a princess-like lilac pompous dress. With it being the only song from the Speak Now era, it wasn’t long before the long-awaited Reputation era gripped the crowd with its suppressed anger and female rage. However, maybe because of the sun still setting or maybe because I still hadn’t recovered from ‘All Too Well‘, I found this era to be the most underwhelming one. The only highlights were ‘Delicate‘, alongside the powerful ‘Don’t Blame Me‘, both backed by the meaningful snake swirling on the screen behind the singer. The crowd, at least in my section, also seemed a bit taken aback, as most people started sitting down during the last song. Nevertheless, Swift quickly recovered and my favourite era(s) started: folklore and evermore.

As the backing track got more intense, a beautiful moss-covered house was brought on stage, right next to a moss-covered piano. Right before ‘cardigan‘ started playing, Taylor introduced the albums as the fruit of lockdown insanity. “No one knew what was going on,” she said, reminiscing, and then continued: “folklore is the album I’m most proud of.” 

With the clear influence of The National’s Aaron Dessner, the albums’ most poignant tracks, such as ‘champagne rroblems‘ and the heartbreaking ‘my tears ricochet‘ were played beautifully, with an incredible 3-minute long standing ovation in between. When Taylor saw everyone on their feet, in awe of her, she had to take her in-ears out to properly savour the moment. And I swear I saw tears in her eyes. I have never seen a show stopping like this, just to give the chance to the public to express their gratitude and admiration towards the artist. I wonder if she felt 17 again then, performing in front of hundreds of people with only her acoustic guitar and blonde locks. I wonder how that Taylor Swift would feel now seeing almost 100,000 people loving her for her and her songwriting. 

With a flowy magenta dress, Swift proceeded to play the last two tracks from this era – ‘marjorie‘, in honour of her grandmother, and ‘willow‘. As she sang the lyrics “What died didn’t stay dead, you’re alive, so alive”, the passion and longing was palpable in her voice. And maybe, just maybe, being alive didn’t feel as heavy anymore then.

With another outfit change, this time with a blue and orange set, Swift made everyone recover and dance with the bouncy and poppy 1989 era, which had in store some of the most iconic Swift songs, which truly soundtracked my teenage years. The crowd was so loud singing ‘Shake It Off‘ and ‘Blank Space‘ that Swift’s voice felt even further away. The sense of community, family and unity in that stadium was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. And it was all more heightened when the newest album engulfed the stage. The Tortured Poets Department live did not disappoint and, even if I’d have probably chosen a slightly different setlist, it felt nice to finally see the soundtrack of the last few months come alive. 

The highlight of this Era was ‘The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived‘ which, accompanied by a marching band, felt like a testament to all the pain endured until now. Swift is really good at conveying emotions and, whether it’s in a theatrical or earnest way, it always ends up looking honest. As she sat at a table with a typewriter in front of her while singing ‘Fortnight‘, the crowd produced one of the most amazing sing-alongs I’ve witnessed. And, as the last notes of the empowering ‘I Can Do It With a Broken Heart‘ resolved, we all knew what was coming next: surprise songs. 

Swift once again took possession of the stage with her acoustic guitar and the tension was palpable. As she introduced the choices, she explained that every night it would be different songs, first on the guitar and then on the piano. And the first Wembley date did not disappoint. The first notes of ‘Hits Different‘ rang out and the crowd went crazy. In the middle of the song, Taylor switched things up by starting to play the song with “the best bridge she’s ever written”: Lover’s ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts‘. As everyone around me was visibly excited, the stadium became alight with energy as the long-awaited bridge fused with the proceeding song. But apparently, that was just the beginning.

The piano was just sitting next to Swift at that point and, after she finished reeling from the amazing reaction from the crowd, she sat at it and played one repetitive chord a couple of times. It felt familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. “I am someone who until recent events you shared your secrets with” came out of her mouth and I physically saw people having to sit down. Half of me expected it as ‘The Black Dog‘ does reference London, however it still felt surreal. Instead of doing a complete mashup, Taylor decided to play the piano ballad in its entirety, gifting me one of the highest moments of my life so far (I wish I was joking).

However, instead of finishing her surprise performance there, Swift opted to cause even more havoc by mixing ‘Come Back Be Here‘ and ‘Maroon‘, two of the most poignant works of her career. There was little she could have done at this point to make the evening better. I was just surprised to see her still so energetic after almost two hours and a half of back-to-back songs. 

With the last Era approaching – Midnights – one would think the stadium would feel a bit deflated. However, it was the opposite. Walking on stage in a sequinned blue bodysuit, Taylor Swift looked at the crowd for one last time. Could she see our faces? Could she even feel hers? ‘Lavender Haze‘, ‘Anti-Hero‘ (yes, the “it’s me, hi, I’m the problem it’s me” song), and ‘Bejewelled‘ flew by and, before we knew it, the last song ‘Karma‘ was performed, with the usual lyrical hint at the singer’s boyfriend Travis Kelce, when Swift sang “Karma is the guy on the Chiefs”. While the fireworks lit the sky up for the last time that night, Taylor basked in her success and peoples’ smiles.

At this point, the cowboy hats were off and most makeup was smudged, but it was all so worth it. While three hours is a long duration for a single show, Taylor was able to make it feel like an unforgettable experience. The Eras were truly a perfect depiction of her artistic persona growing up, and perhaps of a personal and intimate side getting over fears and disappointments too. Growing up has always been a daunting thought for me. But seeing Taylor Swift on that stage, singing those songs and those lyrics, made it feel a bit lighter. So thank you Taylor, for making girlhood and being a woman feel easier. Oh, and thank you for the 3-hour-long therapy session, we all needed it.

Words by Silvia Pellegrino 


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