Taylor Swift @ AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX

Words and photos by Scott Rowe
Outside of a few tours that come to mind, let's say like 2000's Up in Smoke Tour featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eminem, et cetera, there's not many that have the anticipation or excitement of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour. While the tour will only be visiting 20 cities across the States, all dates are scheduled for stadiums and every city will have multiple dates at their respective location; eight cities will have three back to back to back dates and Los Angeles will have a historic five-night stand at SoFi Stadium. If you do the math, three back to back days of 70,000 fans sounds more like Coachella than a solo artist's tour dates. I can't remember a tour of this magnitude and in all honesty, probably won't see another like it in my lifetime. With all that said, Swift and her Eras Tour made its first of three nights at JerryWorld, aka AT&T Stadium, nearly four months to the day of the tour's announcement. The city of Arlington went all in on Swifty-Mania, giving Taylor the key to the city and renamed Randol Mill Road to Taylor Swift Way. But these would be all for not if Swift could not deliver on stage within the confines of AT&T. Let's just say, she deserved everything and then some.

The Eras Tour marked Swift's first tour since 2018's Reputation Tour, which at the time was the highest grossing US tour in history. The pandemic halted her scheduled Lovers Fest, but it also gave her some extended time to release three more albums in Folklore, Evermore, and Midnights. So with four albums under her belt she's never toured on, you can see why the anticipation was so high for these shows. You were going to get a rundown of her entire catalog while seeing songs being performed for the first time, maybe even for the first time ever. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Upon entering the AT&T Stadium grounds, you couldn't help notice the thousands of fans making their way to the stadium, buying shirts and more at the standalone merch truck, or queuing outside of the doors, simply waiting to make their way inside. You also couldn't help to notice that nearly everyone was dressed to impress, displaying every hue known to man, sequins as far as the eye can see, and those who thought a costume was the way to go; my favorite was a guy dressed as a champagne bottle. This was not your ordinary show. It was next level and the fans showed out in every aspect.

The production for this tour was intricate, excessive, elaborate, and simply outright impressive. A large LED panel backed the main stage, while a catwalk made its way down AT&T Stadium with a large, diamond-sized stage at midfield. The stage continued and ended with a T-shape at the end, nearly taking up the entire field at an NFL stadium. Again, impressive. Everything from stage lighting, the stage itself lighting up, to pyro and confetti, this tour spared no expense. Even the fans were made part of the show, as they were given light-up wristbands that would light up during certain parts of the show or in tandem with songs being performed. As the house lights went dim, the large LED panel began a countdown, as videos of Taylor were being played, showcasing her different Eras. Once the clock hit zero, the show began.

While a band of performers entered from the back of the stage, strutting like a flock of peacocks with their feathers up, it was only a moment until everyone realized that Taylor had risen from the floor and she proceeded to start the show with "Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince". I'm not sure if you know what deafening sounds like but it was legit deafening when she appeared onstage. Glimmering in a rhinestone leotard, Swift jumps right in and embraces the thousands in attendance. During this first stretch of this Era, Swift focused on her 2019 release, Lover. As the show progresses, the Eras theme becomes more apparent, as she bundles songs from each of her albums and performs them together before moving to the next Era. The first big highlight from the show comes in the fourth song, "You Need to Calm Down", where Taylor singlehandedly gets 70,000 fans to move in unison as they belt at the top of their lungs the 3x platinum single. As we were walking out from shooting the first three songs, it was an impressive sight.

The show and its Eras pay tribute to every Swift album outside of her self-titled debut, which was left off of the setlist. Even without its inclusion, you got a taste of what made Taylor who she is, from her country roots of Fearless with the mega hits of "You Belong to Me" and "Love Story" to the electro-deviation of 2017's Reputation. While this was not billed as a greatest hits tour, the access to each Era of Swift's catalog, it was hard not to include almost every chart-topping single throughout her career. Another highlight of the show was her performance of the '10-minute Version' of her song, "All Too Well". Anytime a single performer can stand in front of an entire stadium and keep them captivated for a single-stretch of time, that speaks volumes of that performer and the material being performed.

The Folklore portion of the concert did give a slight mellower vibe to the night but was also was welcomed warmly, as I mentioned previously, this was the first time fans were able to hear these songs live. And while living in a pandemic, Taylor's music helped provide an outlet for those lost in the world and these songs fit perfectly within the night's offerings. But once the Folklore Era concluded, we were thrust into the 1989 Era, and lets just say, things picked right back up. With a quintet of hits performed back to back including "Style", "Blank Space", "Shake It Off", "Wildest Dreams", and "Bad Blood", I feel this was the peak of the show. It just was the perfect combination of songs before ending with Taylor's final, and most recent Era, Midnights.

But before we can reach the Midnights Era, Taylor treated the thousands in attendance to solo performances of "Sad Beautiful Tragic" and "Ours". It was a nice transition, as it gave Swift the ability to slow down, connect with the audience she otherwise might not have had the opportunity to do with a full-scale performance. It's little things like this that makes Taylor such a dynamic performer, being able to take any song and perform it at its highest level or strip it down to a bare bones performance and still carry her fanbase with her. Once the solo portion of the show finished, she moved to her Midnights Era. Since the Midnights Era is the most recent album to be released, it also had some of the most anticipated songs to be performed including "Lavender Haze" and "Anti-Hero". The show finished with a jubilant performance of "Karma", which included a swatch of sparkling dancers, a burst of confetti, and a humbled Swift acknowledging everyone and everything that it takes to put on these shows and her gratitude to her fans. It was an exclamation point to a flawless show that I don't think anyone will ever be able to replicate but everyone will want to try to duplicate. It was an amazing show, one I was very proud to shoot and review.

Photos of the show are below:

Taylor Swift @ AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Taylor Swift @ AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on April 03, 2023 Rating: 5
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