Photo: Christopher Polk/TAS/Getty Images for TAS
Taylor Swift At Frank Erwin Center
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Lynne Margolis
At 23, Taylor Swift has won seven GRAMMY Awards — and enough other awards to fill a room in the new education center she's funding at Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. But when she appeared in Austin, Texas, on May 21 before more than 12,000 screaming fans at the sold-out Frank Erwin Center, she admitted she was still basking in the afterglow of her Billboard Music Awards sweep on May 19 in Las Vegas, where she garnered eight trophies, including Top Artist.
Her concert, a mega-production that rivals Cirque du Soleil for rigging alone, much less set changes, lighting cues and special effects, is quite an achievement as well. Viewers of her circus-themed opening performance of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards in February got a preview of her stage show, a kinetic tour de force containing most of the tracks from her latest No. 1 album, Red.
As her image moved across multiple screens, Swift strutted across multiple stages, ascending and descending via a series of hydraulic lifts, ramps and at one point, an aerial float that swept her over the crowd. She even played an acoustic set on a rotating circular platform that rose from the back of the arena to reach fans farthest from the main stage. Clearly, Swift knows how to work a room.
But she also knows how to craft and deliver a song. It's no accident that her tales of teen angst and heartbreak have sold more than 26 million albums worldwide, and her singles soar up the charts. The legions of young females buying her music likely relate to her vulnerability as much as her pop hooks. The fact that she gets to live out her fantasies (and those of her fans) onstage, playing a fairytale princess one minute and a Hollywood starlet the next, simply adds to her allure.
"I write lots of songs about my feelings," she explained, adding that red is the color representing her emotions these days. And so, everything from outfits and microphones to instruments (and some audience members) sparkled in red.
Red also conveys anger, and Swift let out her aggression in songs such as "The Lucky One," her GRAMMY-winning "Mean" and the moody "All Too Well," which she started solo at the piano. But she lightened the mood with a banjo tune, "Stay Stay Stay" (which turned into the Lumineers' "Ho Hey") and "22," which began with a video timeline from her earliest toddler singing attempts to her armload of GRAMMYs at 20. Her acoustic set included a great duet on "Everything Has Changed" with co-writer Ed Sheeran, who earned much love from the crowd during his opening set.
As she and her legion of dancers moved throughout the arena while Swift's mother plucked audience members to share the special space surrounding her rear stage, the star looked like she was having a great time. Singing along and flashing illuminated signs, the audience did, too. Sure, the show was calculated down to the last sliver of heart-shaped confetti, but underneath all the glitz, there lies a great songwriter … and an honest entertainer.
To catch Taylor Swift in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
"State Of Grace"
"You Belong With Me"
"The Lucky One"
"Stay Stay Stay"/"Ho Hey" (Lumineers cover)
"Fifteen"/"White Horse"/"I Almost Do"/"Our Song"
"Everything Has Changed" (with Ed Sheeran)
"I Knew You Were Trouble"
"All Too Well"
"We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
(Austin-based journalist Lynne Margolis currently contributes to American Songwriter, NPR's Song of the Day and newspapers nationwide, as well as several regional magazines and NPR-affiliate KUT-FM's "Texas Music Matters." A contributing editor to The Ties That Bind: Bruce Springsteen from A To E To Z, she has also previously written for Rollingstone.com and Paste magazine.)