Published on theMusic.com.au, Oct 2018
Pic by Ted Dana
Taylor Swift, Charli XCX, Broods
Security was thorough as thousands of Taylor Swift fans unloaded from buses and trains around Perth Stadium, with one thing, in particular, standing out on the “Prohibited Items” list – “Ex-boyfriend/Ex-lovers”, with a series of the headline act’s greatest hits pictured beside it.
Each punter entering scored “a gift from Taylor”, a wristband that we were instructed to activate during the main event, adding to the excitement around the corner.
After loosening up with a tightly executed version Hold The Line, New Zealand sibling duo Broods were right at home at Perth’s largest music venue for their biggest gig to date.
Songs like Heartlines and Free, with their slow-building verses and soaring choruses from vocalist Georgia Nott, rendered them perfect for a stadium, as the space in the verses allowed the vocals to bounce around the open-air venue, while their chorus hooks filled every inch of the space with an infectious energy.
The atmosphere was drastically different when Charli XCX‘s name lit up on the big screen, with thick and moody synth adding a sense of urgency to the air and snare hits so piercing they could have been mistaken for gunshot as Boom Clap fought to overpower the screaming crowd. Her Icona Pop collab, I Love It, was up next, transforming the gig into an aerobic workout for many.
Break The Rules proved popular with the younger audience members, something that resulted in primary school kids singing along passionately about “Getting high and getting wrecked“.
Despite not mentioning the song’s Perth connection, Troye Sivan collab 1999 proved a set highlight. It would have been nice to see Sivan on stage with her like their joint performance of the song in New York the week previous, but the Bloom hitmaker appearing over the PA and on the big screen was a nice touch.
Taylor Swift doesn’t shy away from her critics, her intro consisting of a series of news snippets calling her reputation into question before the singer raised her middle finger to the haters with an intro so bold it immediately had everyone on side.
The massive screens centre stage parted to reveal the superstar on the stage by herself, dressed in a sparkling black playsuit and asking punters if they were …Ready For It?.
Backing dancers joined halfway through to add a dark, theatrical flair into the mix, before the air intensified with blood red lighting in anthem I Did Something Bad.
“I can feel the flames on my skin,” she sang, before flames and fireworks burst from the stage, while everyone’s gifted wristband pulsated red in time.
“Good evening, Perth,” Swift politely said, immediately thanking everyone in attendance and the support acts before pointing out it was the first time a female artist had headlined the new stadium. It proved a nice transition into new tune Gorgeous.
The single, like many on Reputation, is a slight departure for the singer, with more calculated and simplistic production than some of her previous efforts, but it translated well to the stage.
The production, choreography and outfits were dripping Style, something Swift’s mastered over the years through a number of different creative direction changes.
It was the juxtaposition between classic tune Love Story and more recent electronic pop hit Look What You Made Me Do that really illustrated the eclectic nature of her catalogue.
With a giant inflatable cobra, gold throne, dizzying dance moves and headline act that commanded undivided attention, it was easy to forget she was accompanied by a solid live band, especially given the fact, when they weren’t concealed behind the big screens, they were perched between them, often left in a flurry of lights. But their presence and talent definitely added to the experience, with booming drums laying a platform for hits like King Of My Heart, while electric guitar gave the show a rock’n’roll edge and other acoustic instruments throughout grounded the electronic onslaught.
A candid speech about taking time off after 1989 to find herself gave fans an insight into the inception of her latest album, resulting in a powerful message about love and friendship.
“Is that rain?” Swift asked. “Well, I’m not going anywhere, no matter what,” she added, as our wristbands illuminated purple and Delicate drops of rain fell onto the crowd.
Swift climbed aboard a carriage lit by rope lights and gently floated around the stadium, a sea of screams radiating from below.
“Will you dance in the rain with me?” she asked over the quirky pop intro of Shake It Off, now positioned on a stage in the middle of the stadium where more giant inflatable snakes and a sea of flickering, rainbow coloured wristbands set the scene for a set highlight that included more fireworks and confetti.
It might be the singer’s first all-stadium tour, but she hasn’t forgotten her roots, standing solo on the same platform with just an acoustic guitar for a stripped-back rendition of Dancing With Our Hands Tied.
Keeping things intimate and revisiting a song she hadn’t “played in a minute”, a reimagined I Knew You Were Trouble had the crowd screaming every word and proved she didn’t need all the bells and whistles to have an impact. It was also a reminder of just how powerful her voice is.
Venturing from one side of the stadium to another, a few lucky fans got high fives and handshakes, before she re-emerged on another platform, dressed in a classy, sparkling red playsuit.
It was back to the pop hits as Blank Space re-enlisted booming drums and epic chorus hooks, something continued by megahit Bad Blood as its eerie intro that transitioned into thundering bass.
The 2014 hit, mashed with Should’ve Said No, saw dancers flying around the stage while Swift ducked and weaved through its various platforms, spitting its lyrics with an intensity that gave punters another dose of adrenaline that not only saw them bouncing for the remaining songs but probably buzzing in the days that followed.
A mash-up of Long Live and New Year’s Day was a religious experience for many; some avid fans in tears watching their idol perched behind the piano for the ballads.
A video interlude, Why She Disappeared, bridged the gap before the encore, with the audience sitting in silence as they listened to its poetic message. It didn’t last long, as Getaway Car saw the venue erupt.
Swift wasn’t done yet, though, with confetti once again showering the audience as she danced alongside brightly dressed backing dancers on a stage that looked like something out of Vegas.
All the evening’s best musical and production elements culminated for a massive finale in We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. Taylor Swift’s latest production delivers everything you could want from a stadium tour.