I went to see Taylor Swift on Monday and wrote a review for Londonist. I had quite a lot to say, so here is the unabridged version…
Not since the days of the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party have we heard such loud, high-pitched screams as at Taylor Swift’s first ever UK arena gig at Wembley on Monday. We certainly never expected to witness such a reaction to a country artist. Could it be that a new generation of music lovers will not grow up believing that country music is inherently extremely uncool?
The arena was filled to the rafters with teenage girls and tangibly buzzed with excitement in anticipation of Taylor’s arrival on stage. From her energetic entrance to the sound of our favourite Taylor hit, You Belong With Me, to the dramatic finale of Should’ve Said No two hours later, the gig was a non-stop screamathon. At one point, Taylor had to stop the show just to wait for the crowd to calm down. If she hadn’t started up another song, they would have quite happily screamed “we love you Taylor!” incessantly for the rest of the night.
Taylor may have only had one top 20 single in the UK so far, but her fans could be heard singing along with every song she performed. Taylor’s tendency toward songs which tell stories meant that many were acted out on stage. She even performed Forever and Always, a song she wrote about her unpleasant break-up with popstar ex Joe Jonas, to a lookalike of the Jonas Brothers singer himself. Teen romance was certainly the over-riding subject of the night, and one that the majority of the audience would very much identify with.
There was also a sense of Taylor’s youthful idealism in songs such as the mega-hit Love Story, in which Taylor is swept off her feet by her very own prince charming, yet in White Horse she realises “I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale”. Twenty-year-old Taylor is a hugely influential role model for girls a few years her junior, and every lyric is carefully calculated in accordance with that fact. However, Taylor’s music isn’t all morals and cautionary tales – it’s great fun as well. Taylor’s infectious personality and blend of ambition with humility have helped her to become as beloved by the American music industry as she is by every teenage girl who never made the cheerleading squad or dated a football player. With this in mind, the outrage when Kanye West insulted her in front of the nation at the recent MTV Awards comes as no surprise.
The electric atmosphere and complete lack of empty seats at Monday’s Wembley concert showed that Taylor could have easily played several more nights at Wembley and many more around the country too. However, with a star so bright as Taylor’s currently is, there’s no time to hang around. Tuesday’s visit to Manchester MEN Arena was the last stop in the UK for the Fearless Tour, which will continue in Australia and return to the USA for many more dates in 2010. Hopefully she’ll find time for another flying visit to our shores at some point over the next twelve months – there will certainly be demand for it.