Taylor Swift is arguably the biggest pop star in the world right now, so when an artist has that much money, power and fame at her disposable, her concerts have very high expectations–and she definitely did not disappoint.
Swift pulled out all the stops at the first of five record-breaking sold out shows at the Staples Center (more on that later) on her “1989 World Tour.” She emerged onstage following a cluster of numerous male dancers (she must want her female energy to be the be only one on stage) singing the opening song from the album, “Welcome To New York.” With large background screens projecting images of the famous skyline, LA fans didn’t even seem to care that her first song was an ode to the East Coast and not the West, judging by their deafening screams.
Swift kept the energy high, following with “New Romantics,” her smash hit “Blank Space” and an odd remix of her older hit “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Her voice boomed and was practically flawless, albeit the loud backing track no doubt helped mask any bad notes she may have hit. One of the highlights of her limited number of non-“1989” songs was a stunning, moody new remix of her hit “Love Story” from her “Fearless” album.
Even though the set list was very “1989” heavy (which frankly makes sense and was too be expected), the fans didn’t seem to care–even Swift confidently said that she’s thankful for everyone knowing all the words. Indeed, even if some more casual fans didn’t know a few of the deeper album cuts from “1989,” her showmanship and grandiose production kept everyone entertained. She even provided light-up bracelets on everyone’s seats that changed color to the beat and mood of whatever song she was singing. Her show, however, was not all style and no substance. Besides her spot on vocals, Swift also demonstrated her many other musical talents including her guitar skills (she performed an acoustic version of “All Too Well” from her “Red” album for the first time on this tour) as well her piano abilities during “Wildest Dreams.”
On many of her tour stops so far, Swift has surprised the audience with an unexpected guest. In Los Angeles of all places, fans’ expectations were high as to which of her many famous friends she would bring out. Once again Swift did not disappoint when she asked OneRepublic’s Ryan Teddar to come out on stage (he also co-wrote some songs on “1989”) and the two sang his hit song “Counting Stars.”
The other surprise came when L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant emerged on stage and interrupted Swift’s performance of “Style.” He surprised her as well as the audience by unveiling a permanent banner next to all the Laker championship ones that read “Taylor Swift Most Sold Out Performances.” She seemed genuinely shocked and humbled by not only the banner itself but also by her accomplishment.
Swift ended the show with two of the best songs from “1989,” the 80s-sounding “Out of The Woods” and the smash single “Shake It Off” as the encore. As the entire arena sang along, it was clear that Swift definitely had the charisma and talent to sell out five nights there. Her between-song banter may have been a bit preachy and phony, and video interludes of her famous friends talking about how great she is was a bit unnecessary, but, as a performer, she is at the top of her game right now and put on quite a show. Even those that hate, hate, hate Taylor Swift would no doubt be mesmerized by her stage presence and would be singing along to every word.