Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Taylor Swift brings once-in-a-career Eras Tour to Detroit

It’s been a long time coming, but Detroit was ready for it when Taylor Swift brought her massive Eras Tour to the city for a two-night run in June.

Few people could command a stadium so forcefully that 70,000 fans adoringly cheer when they ask for a tissue, but Swift has been experiencing a level of popularity not seen since the likes of The Beatles or Michael Jackson.

That energy was apparent from the moment Swift first appeared on stage, leading the stadium to erupt in thunderous applause so loud it nearly drowned out the music, which was blasting at a plenty high volume itself. The crowd roared even louder when Swift paused during “Cruel Summer,” the first full song on the setlist after she pops out from under the stage to the intro of “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” to encourage the audience to scream the bridge together – and scream it they did.

The crowd didn’t let up at any point during Swift’s career-spanning performance, which clocked in at just over three hours – though it sipped away like a bottle of wine and could have gone on for at least another hour without feeling like it was dragging on at all.

Fans participated in a number of Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque chants when their cue hit, whether it was telling Swift to “take us to church” during “Don’t Blame Me,” interjecting Kendrick Lamar’s “you forgive, you forget, but you never let it go” verse into “Bad Blood” or shouting “one, two, three, let’s go b***h” during “Delicate,” which Swift worked into her choreography this go around after the trend took off at her previous tour.

Even during the nightly surprise song segment, when Swift acoustically performs two songs from her catalogue that aren’t usually on the setlist, a majority of the audience seemed able to go verse for verse with Swift as they shouted the lyrics to “Haunted” and “I Almost Do” on night one and “All You Had To Do Was Stay” and “Breathe” on night two.

After Swift performed “champagne problems,” the fans showered her with their gratitude, applauding for more than two minutes straight each night.

Even as she performed through a cold, Swift delivered power notes and put on a spectacle as she masterfully weaved, seemingly effortlessly, through each of her eras, complete with accompanying costumes and props. My friends and I talked about being sore the next day from just attending the concert, and we had a chance to sit down and rest between each era; for Swift, she had to frantically make each of her quick changes behind the scenes before returning to the stage to continue dancing and singing.

Swift did occasionally cough into the microphone while she was between lines; however, this serves as proof that her microphone is, in fact, always on – no lip syncing here, even when she’s sick.

The biggest sonic issue had nothing to do with Swift performing through a cold, but rather the fact that her microphone periodically cut out during the second night’s performance. During her performance of “The Man,” the third song of the show, the audio was noticeably interrupted by a loud static noise before being restored a couple seconds later. Her vocals were briefly lost again at least two more times later in the show, though it was less noticeable without the static interruption. Still, Swift took her own advice to “Shake It Off,” continuing to perform through any technical difficulties without missing a beat.

Beyond commanding the stadium, Swift managed to make her performance feel intimate, even though her speaking portions were heavily rehearsed and largely identical from city to city. She utilized little mannerisms, such as mouthing “I need one” to audience members in one section after singing the lyrics “you can buy me a drink,” winking after singing “what a shame she’s f***ed in the head” during “champagne problems” and shaking her head after asking “do the girls back home touch you like I do?”

That’s especially impressive given the scale of this tour; it’s a spectacle from start to finish.

Swift is touring in support of four albums that she has not toured before as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: 2019’s Lover, 2020’s folklore and evermore and 2022’s Midnights.

Her pandemic albums, folklore and evermore, were perhaps the most surprising in how well they translated into live performances. During the folklore section, Swift performs from atop a massive cabin prop before she descends to its lower levels later on. During the evermore era, Swift effortlessly transitions from performing a cult-like ceremony during “willow,” complete with glowing orbs as she seemingly casts spells at her dancers, to a heart-wrenching performance of “marjorie,” a song about her grandma. Swift explains that her grandma is sampled in the song, fulfilling her dream of performing for sold-out stadiums like Swift is doing now.

Since her last tour, Swift has also released re-recorded versions of three of her first six albums – Fearless (Taylor’s Version), Red (Taylor’s Version) and Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) – with a fourth on the way this October in the form of 1989 (Taylor’s Version) as she works to reclaim her masters.

However, not every era was created equal, and there are a few ways the setlist could improve. Swift’s self-titled debut album, Taylor Swift, was left out entirely, a surprising decision for a tour meant to celebrate each of her eras.

Her third album, Speak Now, accounted for just one song on the setlist until a second song joined the mix on July 7, coinciding with the release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). This second song creates its own double standard for fans who attended the first two-thirds of the U.S. leg of the tour, before she expanded the setlist.

And, curiously, almost none of the vault tracks – songs released for the first time with the re-recordings  – made the cut, with the setlist instead favoring only her biggest radio hits from each of the previous albums, sometimes also at the expense of fan favorites that didn’t chart as highly. The one exception to this would be “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” an expanded version of the original song, which Swift delivers a powerful rendition of in one of the best moments of a show full of amazing moments.

However, there’s no denying that Swift is currently in “Style” as she experiences a massive popularity surge, and focusing on her greatest hits presents the perfect opportunity to welcome newer fans who may have overlooked her music in the past. This allows them to become caught up on previous tours they weren’t around for while also providing the chance for longtime fans to travel back through their memories together and relive their favorite eras of years past while also forming new memories of the four new eras that were added to the mix.

Ultimately, despite its minor imperfections, The Eras Tour is a resounding success, the kind of tour that comes around once in a career – and, possibly, once in a generation. From Swift’s greatest hits of years past to the new additions that helped catapult her to her current level of fame, the show is a spectacle that runs hit to hit from the moment it starts to the moment it ends.

Swift recently announced that The Eras Tour would be making a second run through North America in 2024, with nine stops near Michigan next November – three in Indianapolis and six in Toronto. While you may have to be a “Mastermind” to score tickets to the shows — dedicated Swifties will remember their battles with Ticketmaster for the first leg of the tour “All Too Well” — the experience is worth all the mountains you’ll move.

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