Last year, Taylor Swift wowed music fans with her most diverse album to date. Last night (Mar. 27), she brought that album to life with the first of three Newark, N.J. performances on her Red Tour.
“Red” was the theme of the night, dominating everything from the song choices to the colors of Taylor’s banjo, guitar, and shoes. 13 of the evening’s 17 songs came from the new album, reflecting Swift’s evolution from a country musician — and a massively successful one at that — to a 21st-century pop star with an ever-growing fanbase.
Swift seemed genuinely awestruck when reflecting on the crowd at the Prudential Center, marveling at the sea of fluorescent, fan-made signs and glow sticks which took the usual glow of an arena show to another level. Artists often speak of how each crowd or city is their most passionate; such was the case when Swift addressed her audience following set openers “State of Grace” and “Holy Ground.” Then, in an explanation of the album’s theme prior to performing its title track, Swift stated the obvious:
“I write songs a lot about my feelings. I’m told I have a lot of feelings.”
When Swift took on songs from previous albums — which she did only four times — they hit a bit harder. “Sparks Fly,” a single from 2010’s “Speak Now,” truly soared as Swift soared from a platform suspended from the ceiling. “Mean” merrily bounced along as its banjo riffs managed to fill the arena. “You Belong With Me” was given a bit of an about-face, stripped down into a more minimal, beat-driven version while Taylor’s backing performers pantomimed the lyrics.
In a music scene where female pop superstars are often expected to have their performances dominated by flashy choreography, Swift struck a comfortable balance. Swift and her onstage cohorts broke into simple choreo only when the situation called for it; the concert felt like an A-list pop show but seldom got carried away with its concepts, even if there were dancing photojournalists on hand for “Lucky One.”
Out of all of Swift’s onstage companions, the one with just an acoustic guitar received the most rousing reception. After an uplifting opening set, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran joined Swift onstage for a performance of their “Red” duet “Everything Has Changed.”
Following the trend set earlier on the Red Tour, Swift’s performance did not include an encore, although ending with a circus-like, confetti-covered performance of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” assured that she went out on top.
Swift will remain in Jersey for the next two nights, with pair of additional Prudential Center performances. Her North American tour runs through Sept. 21, where it wraps up in Nashville, TN.
Here is the set list from Taylor Swift’s Mar. 27 performance:
State of Grace
You Belong With Me
Stay Stay Stay/Ho Hey (Lumineers cover)
Everything Has Changed (Feat. Ed Sheeran)
I Knew You Were Trouble
All Too Well
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together