After watching so many just-past-their-prime Vegas nostalgia acts—Britney Spears, Mariah Carey et. Al.—it was incredibly refreshing to witness Taylor Swift perform in her full glory. Here was a 25-year-old long-limbed beauty at the height of her pop star powers: dancing, posing, singing, connecting with the audience in a constant rotation of fabulous and skimpy costumes. Unlike Mariah, she didn’t need help walking in her sky-high heels. And unlike Britney, she didn’t disappear into her crowd of backup dancers. This star owned the stage, exuding that all-American combo of chaste sexuality. Magnified on the video screens, her every expression resembled a carefully composed Covergirl makeup ad.
Swift was at her best when performing large-scale pop numbers (“Welcome to New York,” “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “Bad Blood”), which included props, set pieces, video projections, backup dancers, confetti and pyrotechnics. A show highlight was a giant stage-crane mechanism that rotated in every direction, allowing Swift to perform out and over the audience.
The show cratered when Swift got all singer-songwriter-y. Without adornment, her voice is OK, but not all that strong. When she brought fellow Rock in Rio performer and “best friend” Ed Sheeran onstage to duet on “Tenerife Sea,” his voice outclassed hers.
During costume changes, video interviews of Swift’s celebrity besties (Lena Dunham, Karlie Kloss, et. Al.) waxed nostalgic on friendship, girl power and the general awesomeness of Swift. This quickly wore thin, but it was all in the service of Swift’s inclusive millennial generation popdom. And when the two-hour show ended with barn burner “Shake it Off,” everybody shook it off and danced. ★★★✩✩
Welcome to New York
I Knew You Were Trouble
I Wish You Would
How You Get the Girl
I Know Places
Tenerife Sea (duet with Ed Sheeran)
We Are Never
Out of the Woods
Shake It Off
Photos by Jesse J Sutherland