Whether you’re a die-hard fan or fervent hater, there’s no denying that Taylor Swift is an unparalleled force of nature. While I would usually consider myself an indifferent observer of Swiftie, I was open to be convinced otherwise on the Sydney stop of her Reputation tour last night.
The show kicked off with New Zealand duo Broods followed by Charli XCX’s unique brand of bubble gum pop. She packed her set with back-to-back bops including ‘Boys’, ‘Boom Clap’ and her latest throwback banger ‘1999’.
After a scorching hot day, a brewing storm delayed Swift’s arrival by almost an hour. But the approaching deluge couldn’t have been more poetic. Flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder only amplified the electric energy buzzing through ANZ Stadium. And almost as if it were planned, the skies opened up just as Joan Jett’s ‘Bad Reputation’ blasted through the stadium before bursting into Swift’s ‘…Are You Ready For It?’.
As Swift and her pack of dancers staunched the stage, the heavy raindrops weren’t enough to dampen the crowd’s spirits. If anything, it only added to atmosphere as 80,000 drenched fans danced together in the spring rain. She was soon soaked but smashed through ‘I Did Something Bad’ and ‘Gorgeous’ with seemingly effortless energy and an unwavering grin.
“That’s the concept of friends. They’re the ones that will show up rain or shine. Isn’t that right, Sydney?” Swift laughed as she wiped her rain-plastered hair from her face.
The country star turned fully-fledged pop phenomenon pulled out all of the stops for her debut worldwide Stadium tour. The extravagant full-scale production boasted pyrotechnics, back up dancers and numerous sequinned costume changes. In other words, it was nothing short of the awe-inspiring attack on the senses that you’d expect from the reigning princess of pop.
The entire performance was littered with the snake motifs and themes of revenge that you’d expect from ‘Reputation’. From python-print costumes and giant, inflatable snakes in ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ to Swift flying over the crowd inside the vertebrae of a cobra in ‘Bad Blood’, she clearly wears Kim Kardashian’s once-intended insult as a badge of honour.
Taking a break from the massive stage, Swift soared over the crowd for ‘Delicate’ and performed her hit ‘Shake It Off’ on a platform in the centre of the stadium. Charli XCX and Broods’ Georgia Nott also joined Swift on stage to form a powerful girl group that the world needs but doesn’t deserve. An undeniable standout of a stellar set, it finished as a downfall of rainbow confetti joined the rain to shower the already soaked crowd.
The setlist was curated largely to promote ‘Reputation’, but it also featured old favourites including ‘Love Story’, ‘Style’ and ‘Blank Space’. While most songs were boosted by backing vocalists, Swift demonstrated her vocal prowess and guitar skills on an acoustic rendition of ‘22’.
Although already a week into the Australian stint of her 6-month Reputation Stadium worldwide tour, Swift seemed genuinely humbled by every screaming fan. Before settling down at the piano for a gorgeous rendition of ‘New Year’s Day’, she thanked everyone from the punters and crew to the food vendors and merch stand workers for making the night possible.
Swift closed out the show with a monster mash up of ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ and ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’. With elaborate choreography, a fully functioning fountain and fireworks, it felt like the perfect mix of a Broadway musical and pop concert to end the night.
As the house lights went down once more, the stage screens were emblazoned with a final message: “And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive.” The old Taylor may be dead, but she has resurrected with an unrivalled reputation that’s as iconic as ever. Consider me converted.