How do you explain a Taylor Swift concert to someone who’s never been to one? Virtually impossible. I’ve attended between 3000 to 4000 concerts in my life, and that’s a lowball estimate. And there’s nothing I can compare Swift to. Not the Stones, not Paul McCartney & Wings, not Bowie or the Faces in the 70s, not the massive concerts they used to have at Yale Bowl, there’s nothing. Had I seen the Beatles at Shea Stadium, perhaps I’d have a closer comparison. Except the Beatles didn’t play for 3 1/2 hours. And the Beatles audience didn’t have a ratio of 50 women, most of them young, to every one man.
Let’s start with those fans. They were a trip to watch. Stood for the entire show, danced, pumped their fists, scream-sang every word to every song. EVERY WORD. Women should hardness that power, because they would easily control the world, and we’d be better for it. The sheer exuberance brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.
And I make the comparison to the Beatles because who else in pop history could have now played a place the size of Gillette Stadium, that’s roughly 70,000 fans, thirteen times. And let’s be honest she could have sold out another ten shows there, and in every city she’s played. NO musician on the planet can match that. Not now, not ever, except maybe…MAYBE…the Beatles. Sure maybe a few today could sell it out once. But they’d be giving away tickets to the second show.
And I know she has haters. But shut your mouth here. Swift is one of the greatest songwriters of the last 50 years. She is an astonishing performer who is a little awkward and funny, and who truly loves her fans as much as they love her. 3 1/2 hours remember…I can name on one hand the number of times I’ve seen someone play for that long, and four of the fingers would belong to Springsteen.
The 45 songs were mostly broken down into eras, thus the tour’s name. A few from RED (including the 10-minute version of ALL TOO WELL), eight from the blissful FOLKLORE, and so on. She played a few songs solo on guitar, one solo on piano, she played with just a few members of her band, she danced with a large group of dancers, she was a little bit of everything for everyone there. Tireless, to say the least…but there was more, something else beyond this boundless energy. Magic, perhaps. A control of 70,000 people like I’ve certainly never witnessed before. A rally unlike no other. Everyone there for a love of music, a feeling of “we’re not alone.”
I was stunned. Moved. Entertained. I felt blessed to be there. And look, I’m not saying this was the greatest concert of my life. Those accolades still belong to the Clash, or early Bowie, or even Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett together alone at a small club in Northampton. But it was an amazing concert from one of our greatest singer/songwriters. One I will remember, all too well, until the day I die.