Pop superstar Taylor Swift brought her colossal Reputation Stadium Tour to Seattle's CenturyLink Field, thrilling tens of thousands of cheering fans.
As tens of thousands of fans who filled CenturyLink Field eagerly waited for Taylor Swift to take the stage, a video splashed on two massive screens showed die-hard fans’ reactions to seeing her “Look What You Made Me Do” video for the first time. One particularly enamored Swiftie was barely audible.
Eyes wide, mouth agape, the creeping suspicion he’s witnessing something colossal becomes increasingly visible on his face. Pausing to take it all in and ascribe some sort of meaning to the experience, all he can muster is, “(Expletive!).”
As Swift and her battalion of dancers, musicians and stagehands charged through her two-hour set Tuesday night, it was hard not to similarly feel like a doe-y fan in headlights as Swift’s stunning new tour rife with holy (expletive) moments was barreling down on you.
Screams filled the stadium like an army of high-pitched 12s as Swift’s silhouette emerged in a puff of smoke to blast through a biting version of “ … Ready for It?,” the opening track off last fall’s “Reputation” album. Swift drew heavily from her new material, which proclaims the death of “old Taylor” on her chart-topping hit “Look What You Made Me Do.” For better or worse, tabloid drama has become an inextricable part of the superstar’s career, both fueling her music as well as distracting from it. The “Reputation” album and stadium tour seem to set a torch to it all, letting the world know she’s done merely shaking it off.
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A cobra is the Reputation Stadium Tour’s unofficial mascot (and perhaps Tay Tay’s new spirit animal), widely believed to be inspired by a Kim Kardashian dis tweet. A tangle of snakes mesmerizingly slither and lash on two giant video screens, which later morphed into an auxiliary stage for Swift’s band, as six shirtless dudes bang colossal drumheads, thunderously taking out “King of My Heart” with Swift splitting for one of many wardrobe changes.
The production on her new juggernaut of a tour is astounding, and four cities in, the execution was nearly flawless. After performing a few songs from two small stages amid the crowd — including a confetti-blasting “Shake It Off” with a cameo from opener Charli XCX — a cobra chariot carried Swift overhead and back to the main stage for a stomping “Bad Blood.” Black-clad dancers hung from the stage’s rigs and climbed around an industrial platform, revealed as giant screens opened, feeling like “The Matrix”—the musical.
Both Swift and London synth-pop singer Charli XCX paused at times to acknowledge their absent tourmate Camila Cabello, who canceled her Seattle appearance, citing dehydration, on what Charli XCX called a “girl-powered” tour.
While ticket sales nationwide were reportedly slower than usual, which some industry insiders attributed to a new “dynamic” pricing model, CenturyLink Field was mostly filled with moms, 20-something dudes and young girls testing the limits of the buddy system. (Swift later pegged Tuesday’s crowd at 56,000.)
Swift’s is a commanding stage presence, whether she’s unaccompanied and strutting across the stage in knee-high leather boots, or decked out as a sci-fi Egyptian queen flanked by her minions in movement. The only knock — and not an insignificant one — was that Swift’s vocals were often absent or ineffective. Amid the highly choreographed megaproduction, too frequently Swift’s voice was simply indistinguishable from her supporting vocalists.
She fared better during the campfire intimacy of two acoustic numbers — “Dancing With Our Hands Tied” and “Holy Ground” — though her voice wavered a bit on the former. A solo piano version of “Long Live” was another standout, her vocals not competing with the production’s pomp and circumstance.
Nevertheless, the vocal hang-ups weren’t insurmountable and the spectacle alone was worth the price of admission. Swift gave a master class in how to cap a stadium gig with what was refreshingly more of a knockout finale than applause-hungry encore (though cheer they did).
During her Gatsby-in-wonderland closing run, Swift and her pastel cohorts danced and splashed in a water fountain in front of a lit up mansion with carefree reverie. As “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” ended in a fusillade of fireworks spouting through the stadium’s open roof and the cast of this triumphant Broadway-goes-to-the-Super-Bowl segment took their final bow, a parting message lingered on the screens.
“In the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive,” it proclaimed.
If “old Taylor” — or at least her “reputation” — is dead, long live the new Swift.