What's better than driving with your windows down on a sunny day, blasting a Taylor Swift song? Experiencing her perform that song live. As a devoted Swift fan, I was lucky enough to attend her concert Saturday night (June 5) on the last date of her 15-month "Fearless" tour. The hit-packed show at Foxboro, Mass.' Gillette Stadium featured four acts in front of more than 56,000 appreciative fans.
Country acts Gloriana and Kellie Pickler and pop sensation Justin Bieber took turns opening the show, with Bieber, unsurprisingly, the runaway fan favorite of the trio, as the venue's seats quickly began to fill in when he hit the stage. Although I've never personally succumbed to "Bieber Fever," I can understand those afflicted; the 16-year-old is an incredible performer. He appeared extremely comfortable in front of such a large audience, possesses a sweet voice and is a talented dancer. Bieber charmed the crowd and even serenaded a lucky fan on-stage with "One Less Lonely Girl." After his tribute to Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," he closed with his own recent hit "Baby."
Almost three hours after the night's first song, a giant red curtain lifted, and Swift appeared in a marching band uniform singing "You Belong With Me," eventually removing her hat to reveal her famous long, blonde curls. Right from the start, it's clear: that hair is going to be as much a star of the show as her songs; I lost count of how many times she flipped those golden locks, which added extra drama to her dancing.
After her first song, Swift took a moment to survey the massive crowd and express how much she loves her New England fans (as much as she loves "sparkly dresses" and "burning her ex-boyfriends' pictures"). After hearing her sing live for just a few minutes, it's obvious: the 20-year-old is one of the most talented female musicians today. Her songs are beautifully written, her voice unique and pure, and she is a phenomenal performer. In concert, she exudes seemingly inhuman energy.
The setlist offered a well-balanced mix of mellow, guitar-strummed ballads and high-energy country/pop jams.
Swift sang the gentle "White Horse" standing and playing guitar, allowing her voice to reign. Her performance of "Today Was a Fairytale" sported a touch of a hometown feel, as Swift literally and figuratively played to the crowd in a Patriots shirt (her lucky No. 13 surely displacing Tom Brady's No. 12 for most popular Patriots uniform, at least temporarily). The latter song culminated with a stunning explosion of confetti.
"You're Not Sorry," which Swift sang while playing piano, served up a twist, as she diverged into a sample of Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around...Comes Around" (recurring her theme of ex-boyfriends receiving justice after wronging her).
Aside from her talent, easily apparent about Swift is that she loves her fans. In a mid-show acoustic session, she first appeared among the audience singing "Hey Stephen," eventually making her way to the middle of the field's seats, hugging and greeting those on her way. She sang her debut single, 2006's "Tim McGraw," on a raised platform to afford a better view to fans farther back.
Swift contrasted her slower songs with intense performances of "Forever and Always," in which she threw an armchair down the stairs on the stage, and "Our Song." Two of the night's most high-energy songs were "Picture to Burn," accompanied by on-screen images of searing flames, and her closing song, "Should've Said No," complete with a waterfall displaying the word "no," as Swift danced under the spraying water, making for a joyous ending to the evening.
Though she did sing a satisfying 17 of her songs, I could have stayed longer. Swift's songs give anyone listening a warm, comforting feeling, one that is enhanced and intensified only by her performances. The way to listen to a Taylor Swift song is to listen to it live.