At one point during the “Evermore” stop during the three-plus hour set of Taylor Swift’s The Era’s Tour at Metlife Stadium, the singer-songwriter took her in-ear monitors and looked around the summer-like atmosphere. Out rang the chants of “TAYLOR” from the crowd. Could you imagine having a collective of almost 80,000 people shouting your name in a big celebration of acceptance and gratitude? While Swift has probably experienced this before, it seemingly caught her off guard in a moment of vulnerability – sitting on a moss-encased piano with a forest backdrop, she briefly became emotional.
It’s damn near impossible not to know of Swift’s gravitational pull when it comes to popular music – 200 million albums sold is quite the feat to have at just 33 years of age. The first of three nights in East Rutherford, New Jersey, felt like one part stage play and another career celebration. Each album felt like not only a time marker in Swift’s life, but for fans as well – (they fought through the numerous hiccups and fees of Ticketmaster to get in the building). As soon as the show started with an intro chronicling 17 years of Swift’s career, the cries, enthusiastic screams, and beckonings for what the singer would choose for “secret songs” started and never stopped.
Every song was a symphony of voices who sang every note as Swift did – often mixing in shared exchange of performer and long-time admirer. Each era visited invited costume changes and elaborate setups. For example, a brief stop at Swift’s 2020’s Folklore had a tree house where the singer dived into songs like “The Last Great American Dynasty” and “Cardigan” with her dancers decked out in classical costumes. 2017’s Reputation implored a more aggressive demeanor from Swift – a snake, a trademark for this particular time, slithered across the screen as the beat from “Ready For It” was intercut with the sounds of Swift’s sequenced red boots built anticipation.
I got the appeal as we got through more than half of the show. It’s not that I didn’t before – I’ve been aware of Swift’s music and artistry throughout her entire career. It’s something to witness firsthand – the singer’s first tour in five years brought out a feverish response because there is a piece of emotions fans can take away from each of these songs. Need a 10-minute breakup anthem? The singer was front and center with an acoustic guitar to perform “All Too Well.” If you just needed catchy pop hooks to sing while with a friend, there were the songs like “Blank Space,” “Bad Blood,” and “Style” from Swift’s 1989 set.
It’s interesting because this reflective career span is usually reserved for artists heading toward the end of their careers. Yet, Swift feels emboldened to create as ever – recording four albums within three years and re-recording earlier albums to regain equity over the music she’s spent most of her life formulating. Thus this convergence is a perfect birth for something like the Eras tour – where all parties involved were bathed in a mix of old memories and making new ones.
While the setlist mostly remained the same, fans behind me toiled at wondering what the surprise songs would be. (Even briefly looking up previous nights and using the process of elimination through Swift’s discography – a devoted feat, I must say). The first song was “Getaway Car from Reputation, where Swift brought out frequent collaborator and Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff to perform with her for a nice New Jersey hometown welcome – acoustic guitar in tow. The other was “Maroon,” a song from the recently released Midnights album that the singer stated was one of her favorites she didn’t get to perform yet.
Swift came, she saw, and she conquered with white confetti, light-up bracelets, and an end note that marked bringing out Ice Spice for their “Karma” remix. The Swifties basked in every moment of it – inside and outside MetLife Stadium. They waged battle with a ticket-selling conglomerate and spent all night picking out specific clothes for the occasion. Many would say they earned it.