Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour Is A Pop Triumph

Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour Is A Pop Triumph

The star attracted 120,000 devoted fans to the Rose Bowl over two sold out nights for good reason.

The star attracted 120,000 devoted fans to the Rose Bowl over two sold out nights for good reason.

Text: Greg Krelenstein

Taylor Swift does not give a damn about her reputation. If her pre-entrance song choice of Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" wasn't enough of a signal, that fact was the driving point throughout her two-hour show-stopping spectacle of pure pop ecstasy (her other pre-show song choice of Mariah Carey's "Obsessed" was also very pointed, albeit for much different reasons).

Swift took her Reputation Stadium Tour to the Rose Bowl for two sold out nights, playing to a crowd of over 60,000 Swifties, and the fans came out in more than just attendance, decked out in the official merch or fashioned in iconic Swift looks.

She remarked that her first gig in the area took place at The Whiskey for just 40 people over a decade ago. While those dive bar shows are long gone, Swift has the rare gift of turning a stadium spectacle into an intimate setting for the day-ones who have followed her journey from country prodigy to pop star.

While the set relied heavily on Reputation material, she included all of the bops—whether in medleys ("Style"/"Love Story"/"You Belong With Me"), mashups ("Bad Blood"/"Should've Said No"), or stripped down ("Dancing With Our Hands Tied"). The crowd knew the words to every song, and while the many hits kept the momentum strong across the two-hour set, the audience's reactions to surprise deep cuts (specifically, an acoustic rendition of heavily lauded fan favorite "All Too Well") demonstrated that Swift is truly an album artist, with all six of her albums on display in one form or another.

Much ado has been made over the icy, defiant new persona she adopted on this album cycle, but it suited itself excellently to a show of this magnitude where she appears larger than life, bouncing over four stages (if you count the tilted one from "Look What You Made Me Do"), snake thrones and inflatables, fireworks, and finally the most impressive set piece, a Gatsby-esque neon mansion complete with a real fountain.

Some tracks took on new meanings on this scale, and their styles were re-contextualized within the current Swift canon. Gothic overtones were in full force during the opening section, with phrases theatrically stretched out ("Burn all the witches" from "I Did Something Bad"), while the confessional singer-songwriter emotion of "Long Live", the only track from her record Speak Now, felt triumphant slightly matured.

Continuing a pattern from the 1989 tour, Swift treated the crowd to a few surprises in very big packages—Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes, and most excitingly, Troye Sivan.  Swift also brings out her support acts, Charli XCX and Camila Cabello, for a girl power rendition of "Shake It Off". In the case of Sivan, Taylor used the platform to announce the release date of his sophomore album Bloom, and her support for other artists is something rare in the pop star landscape which often profits from the opposite.

The Reputation Stadium Tour proves Swift's growth in multiple subtle ways. Her full embrace of her vast back catalog is heartwarming and re-assuring, but her command of the stage, whether plucking a guitar or leading an army of dancers, shows that her musical and performance evolution is an absolute success. She delivers in every way to a mesmerized and devoted audience, re-defining what the modern stadium tour can be.

Credits: IMAGES COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES.

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