Taylor Swift at the O2 Arena
Taylor Swift is red hot right now. A global superstar in the ascendancy, she’s currently playing five sold-out shows at the O2 Arena – and there’s a good reason why.
The arena is swathed in red, fans adorned with hearts and flashing LEDs – an adoring crowd for this worthy country-pop sweetheart. A dramatic, almost manic opening number sets the scene for a night of theatrics, stories and secrets. Confident and emotional, Swift appears with clean vocals and a wholesome image. Lithe, sexy but sweet and oh-so-sincere, she is visibly moved by the devotion.
Holy Ground is accompanied by flashing drums and a spectacle and a half. This is both a show and a showcase – of Swift’s talent, exuberance and universally relatable songwriting. She is a wonderful role model, a Disney princess come to life but tangible and human – she talks of her incomprehension at people’s meanness and her wish that all will learn lessons in life to become the best version of themselves. These are the uplifting and inspiring messages for young fans that popstars should be spouting.
The audience sees a slideshow of Swift’s life in music, testament to her undeniable talent and incredible rise to success. Special guest Sam Smith then enters the stage to screams, performing Money on My Mind as a fun and exciting duet. He seems overwhelmed by the magnetism of the crowd and somewhat dwarfed by Swift’s presence.
Title track Red is wrenching and gutsy, the power of Swift’s vocals bouncing back from the domed ceiling. The singer is comfortable onstage, very humble, always thanking the crowd and appearing genuinely moved by the adoration. All Too Well is stripped back to Swift and her piano, the heartache visible on her face and all-encompassing. Theatrical and deeply felt, this is the core of her appeal: Taylor Swift is the true voice of teenage heartbreak, tentative love, dramatic hurt and great optimism. Through her music she touches all sorts of people – this is a powerful gift and one she handles with grace and sensitivity.
The best number of the night is the spectacular heavy bass rendition of Trouble, which sees Swift explode into a rage of emotion in a playsuit worthy of Beyoncé. This is an excellent production, the stunning costumes and sets well thought out and demonstrating the best of Swift’s storytelling. This is an edge-of-your-seat show; tears are visibly shed and the crowd hangs off every word. Love Story is elegant and romantic – a showstopping number that has the entire arena echoing the sentiment.
Closing with an energetic and aggressive Alice in Wonderland-themed We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, the star of the show bows out with a humble wave. Swift may be “happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way”, but tonight she is one thing above all others: fabulous.
Photos: Francesca Capra
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Watch the video for Everything Has Changed ft. Ed Sheeran here: