A Review of Taylor Swift’s 2020 ‘Lover’ Tour
“Blow-by-blow - The blows that blew me away.”
The chatter slowly begins to fall silent, as all the lights on stage fade one by one. The stillness of the crowd waiting patiently in anticipation is epic. I feel like I’m in some sort of Gladiator movie.
I turn around to apologise to the teenage girls standing directly behind me. I know how much I paid for these seats, and how much I’d hate it if a 6’4” guy was standing in front of me. I’m curious what the first song will be. I’ve made a point to not spend much time online in the last few days and have deliberately blocked out any posts from her first show in Belgium on the weekend as not to ruin the surprise. My friend, probably the only other 34-year-old guy in the amphitheatre who isn’t escorting his 6-year-old daughter, wagers it will be ‘ME!’ because that was her first single and the video for it started where ‘Reputation’ left off. I look at him in awe. I disagree completely, but I’m so proud that he knew that.
I recognise the first note. I sing ahead quickly to recall and shout out the name of the song.
Taylor walks out from the back of the stage. A slow smoky spotlight follows her as she makes her way to the centre. She’s draped in a long black hooded gown, The Scottish Widow. The atmosphere is Dark. Gothic. Eerie.
You know I adore you,
I’m crazier for you.
Then I was at sixteen,
lost in a film scene…
But a lot slower than the original recording. Operatic, almost.
Waving homecoming queens,
marching band playing.
I’m lost in the lights…
“Ahh-hhhh.” Damn! I always get the “ahh-hhhh” in the wrong place.
Running through rose thorns,
I saw the scoreboard.
And ran for my life.
There it is. Her backup singers are lit behind her.
To see you there,
to see you there.
It’s been a long time coming, but…
As she walks forward, the hooded gown flies off her like a dark spirit leaving her body. I didn’t even see the strings. Very smart.
It’s you and me, that’s my whole world.
They whisper in the hallway, “She’s a bad, bad girl.”
Now, a lot more playful, we see her smile and flirt with her lyrics. Beams of light dance behind her as the main screen flashes white and starts to fill with pastel clouds of colour. ‘You Need to Calm Down,’ ‘I forgot That You Existed,’ and ‘I Think He Knows,’ has the crowd, including myself, singing along every word. While she has us on a high, the stage fills with dancers for a bubblegum-tastic ‘Paper Rings.’ Her supporting acts join her and shower the crowd with paper ring confetti from giant pink canons. Taylor leaves the stage, but the band continues the party to close off the beginning of the story.
While we all catch our breath, I make an executive decision to get a beer and popcorn refill. Seeing as the crowd seems even younger this time around, the queue at the candy floss stand is a lot longer than at the bar.
One eye on the screen, I see a piano being rolled onto the stage. Taylor walks out to massive cheers and takes a seat. The Queen addresses her loyal army. Her speech naturally flowing into, “We can leave the Christmas lights up till January…” Stripped back, without any bells or whistles, she reminds the world of her raw talent. She continues the acoustic middle by blending in ‘The Archer,’ and ‘Soon You’ll Get Better.” I’m surprised that Dixie Chicks didn’t join. It’s not like they had a huge part in the song, but I can’t imagine they were too busy.
Time to get the crowd back on their feet. The piano is rolled away. Exactly 32 stereo chants of “My” from her backup singers later, “Saying goodbye is death by a thousand cuts…” It baffles me how fast she changes outfits between songs. My friend jokes that she was wearing a dress with a thousand cuts, which I thought was funny enough to be noteworthy.
She struts onto a makeshift platform in the opening for a very steamy rendition of ‘Afterglow,’ and ‘Daylight.’ The soles of her high heels match her red lips. It felt like she was performing just for me. It took me a moment to recover from seeing her so up close and personal that I can’t recall ‘London Boy,’ a song I secretly fantasised was about me, or ‘The Man.’
Snakes rise from different platforms and viciously hiss at the crowd. They weren’t as giant as the one from her last show, but there were more of them. It was time for the main event. The music builds to a robotic crescendo, “I promise that you’ll never find another like me.”
The snakes explode into hundreds of thousands of colourful butterflies that fill the sky above us, like those flying butterfly greeting cards. If you blinked, you missed what was a spectacular illusion. It truly was magical. I have to give it to her. Wow.
The show isn’t over just yet. She follows a quick mash-up of her biggest hit from each of her albums by thanking us for the support we’ve given her over the years. She shares a photo of one of her first gigs and tells us that we were the reason she was able to live out her dream of being a headliner. It’s nice to hear, but it feels like a goodbye. Is she planning on disappearing for another few years?
It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least. There’s no official encore, but she tops off what has been the perfect June night, with a ‘Cruel Summer.’
© 2019 Eddie King