Taylor Swift is a different artist than she was two years ago, which was the last time she performed at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. Like her 2012 performance, Swift's five-song set on Friday night (Sept. 19) consisted of three past hits, then early treasure "Love Story," and then her flashy new single (at that point, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"). But instead of taking the stage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena as country's undisputed queen, Swift opened this year's show as a music superstar pivoting unambiguously toward pop music, an effort restated through another live performance of her new smash "Shake It Off."
"So here we are, all of us in Las Vegas, because we all love listening to the radio," Swift told her audience a little after 7:45 PT on Friday night. Twirling around the stage in a jewel-encrusted light pink two-piece, Swift's performance was pure bubblegum, as she blasted through her most sugary Red hits ("We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," "22," "I Knew You Were Trouble.") and then thickened the country-pop of "Love Story" into a blustering arena-rock opus. Meanwhile, a 13-piece backing troupe rounded out her giddy vocals, and the numbers '1 9 8 9' towered onstage behind her, a constant reminder that a new T-Swift era is about to begin.