“Hello Houston, Texas . . . I’m Taylor.”
A wide-eyed Taylor Swift played to a sold-out Toyota Center Thursday night on the 17th stop of her worldwide “Red Tour.” The show came complete with 10 costume changes, fireworks, confetti and elaborate moving sets. By the end of the night Swift truly had the whole crowd “feelin’ 22.” To me Swift has always been about the lyrics and songwriting, but she proved that she has the vocals to back it up, belting out an 18-song set to thousands of screaming girls, and the occasional miserable dad.
If it weren’t for the hoards of girls in cowboy boots filling the stands no one would have known Swift began as a country star. Her new Red album is the most rock/pop of any of her albums, with several songs involving techno and dubstep beats.
Swift shared that she “writes lots of songs about her feelings.” Spoiler alert, she has lots of feelings.
Swift erupted onto the stage with “State of Grace,” the first track on her new album. I was extremely impressed with the strength of her vocals this night. I've heard Swift sing live in the past and on TV and she rarely sounds like she does on the radio. Next up was “Holy Ground” a fast paced single complete with a flying marching band.
The third song of the night was the title track "Red" — and Red truly was the theme of the show. From Swift's wardrobe choices and bedazzled electric guitar to her signature red lipstick, you couldn’t escape the color. She explained that she always likes to assign colors to her different emotions and lately the craziness in her life has been a “blinding red.” That craziness surely includes Swift's many tumultuous relationships (and breakups) that are often sensationalized in the tabloids.
In one of her many (read: too many) audience heart to hearts, Swift shared that she “writes lots of songs about her feelings.” Spoiler alert, she has lots of feelings.
The lyrics to Swift's songs tell stories about her romances and she doesn’t try to hide who they are about. From Jake Gyllenhaal to the teenage Kennedy to her most recent break up with One Direction’s Harry Styles, she certainly has a lot of material to work with.
Swift's Texas Mom
Swift also chatted with the crowd about her love for the Lone Star State. It so happens that her mother, who was comically paraded through the crowd at the beginning of the show, was actually raised here in Houston, attending both Memorial High School and the University of Houston. Swift said she always wondered what this “magical place called Houston, Texas is like, and it turns out [it’s] awesome.” I tend to agree.
It almost makes you feel uncomfortable that she is sharing so much with you.
While all the fireworks and acrobats were exciting to look at, Taylor really shined in her intimate acoustic performances. She worked her way through the crowd to a remote stage on the opposite side of the stadium to perform fan favorites “Fearless” and “Begin Again." Without all the bells and whistles, Swift was really able to connect with the audience with just a stool and her guitar.
My favorite part of the night was when she brought out her opening act Ed Sheeran to perform their duet “Everything Has Changed.” Sheeran did an amazing job of warming up with crowd with a short set that was completely solo and acoustic but still engaging and energized.
While performing “Sparks Fly," Swift flew over the audience on a sparkling platform back to the main stage for her final set of songs. The most emotional performance of the night was undoubtedly her rendition of “All Too Well” where she showcased her impressive piano skills. Swift was so engrossed in the tragic love song about another failed romance (rumored to be about Gyllenhaal) that she looked like she was going to burst into tears at any moment.
There is no denying that listening to Taylor Swift's lyrics is like tearing out a page from her diary, and it almost makes you feel uncomfortable that she is sharing so much with you.
While there were many instances when I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at her rambling monologues about overcoming bullies and following your dreams, Swift genuinely does seem to be completely humbled by her success and is adamant about being a good role model to her fans. Overall the concert was extremely entertaining and by the end even the miserable-looking dads couldn’t help but tap their feet to the painfully catchy “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. “
State of Grace
You Belong with Me
Stay Stay Stay
Ho Hey (Lumineers cover)
Everything Has Changed
I Knew You Were Trouble
All Too Well
We are Never Ever Getting Back Together