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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
The Observer

Chart-toppers to heart-stoppers: How the Eras Tour took the world by storm

Maria Tobias
Maria Tobias | The Observer

There’s no doubt that the summer of 2023 was a win for girls everywhere. We participated in the cultural phenomenon that was “Barbie,” heard Oprah call Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour “transcendent,” watched the love-triangle-turned-trainwreck in “The Summer I Turned Pretty” and — arguably most importantly — witnessed Taylor Swift take the world by storm on her Eras Tour.

Spanning 53 dates, 20 stadiums and 10 studio albums, the Eras Tour takes fans through a four-hour showcase of each of her different musical “eras.” The setlist includes a mixture of country, pop, folk and more. Fans (including myself) broke Ticketmaster last year just to get tickets, with thousands more snagging last-minute seats at infamously ridiculous prices. With the first leg of the American tour over, Swift is currently going international before returning to the U.S. next year to play recently added dates.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or an occasional “Shake It Off” listener, everyone can recognize the enormous influence Taylor Swift possesses. Cities she played in saw local business boom from the thousands of concert-goers traveling there. In Glendale, Arizona, the opening night of the tour brought in more revenue for local businesses than last year’s Super Bowl. In the U.S. alone, the tour is projected to generate $5 billion in consumer spending. Internationally, analysts estimate the Eras Tour will likely surpass the $1 billion mark in revenue next month, making it the biggest tour in music history.

So, what’s behind the craze? And an even better question, how does she do it all?

As someone who was lucky enough to attend, I can attest to the fact that the show lives up to the hype. I am a megafan, which may make me biased, but this also meant I had very high expectations. And did the show meet those expectations? Of course.

The Eras Tour experience begins before Swift even comes on stage. Upon arriving at the stadium, thousands of fans were there early to wait in line for merchandise, take pictures and — very endearingly — trade handmade friendship bracelets. One gets the feeling of witnessing a large-scale fashion show as fans, significant others, moms and even dads walk around complimenting each other‘s carefully curated outfits. The atmosphere is one of anticipation, camaraderie and glamor.

This excitement reaches its peak as Swift opens the show with “Cruel Summer” clad in a bejeweled bodysuit and sky-high sparkly boots. When the song ends, it’s hard to hear yourself think with the deafening sound of 72,000 Swifties screaming (and probably crying). All the while, Swift just stands there and smiles, taking in the moment and embracing the energy of her fanbase. 

What comes next is a non-stop trip down memory lane encompassing 17 years worth of music. Each era has distinct costume changes, stage props and visual effects. The stage itself is a massive screen with multiple moving platforms which she struts and dances across. Some of the most notable stage props include the moss-covered Folklore house and the 10 cages with dancers representing each era during “Look What You Made Me Do.”

One of the most highly anticipated parts of the show is the acoustic set, where Swift plays two “surprise songs” — those not a part of the regular setlist. Videos of fans grieving their favorite songs getting played elsewhere swept TikTok, as Swift didn’t repeat a surprise song at her shows twice unless she “messed up” during its performance or it was on her newest album, “Midnights.” Regardless, the acoustic set allows her to slow down the show and play songs she may have not played live in years.

I could make this article much longer than anybody wants, so I’ll give a few quick personal highlights from the show: The iconic “Speak Now” dress, the standing ovation after “Champagne Problems,” getting lightheaded from singing all 10 minutes of “All Too Well” (wouldn’t have it any other way), the note change in “The One” and her dancers’ solos for “Bejeweled.” One can’t help but be in awe of her stamina to sing and dance for that long — and look good while doing it. Not only that, but it’s impressive how she makes a sold-out stadium show still feel intimate. Amanda Petrusich from The New Yorker described it as if she’s “speaking directly to you, confessing something urgent.” With a presence as commanding as hers, it’s hard not to listen.

After five years without touring, Taylor Swift has officially come back in full force. Whether you consider yourself a Swiftie or not, it’s undeniable that the pop star is a force to be reckoned with, and one that is not going away any time soon.

Taylor Swift performs onstage for the opening night of The Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium on March 17, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona.