Leave it to Taylor Swift to deliver a KO blow and simultaneously please her fans beyond all expectations.
The double-whammy was ably achieved by the “New Romantics” singer during her first and only live appearance of 2016, which capped the Saturday (Oct. 22) festivities of the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin. During the show, Swift debuted a solo piano version of “This Is What You Came For,” the Calvin Harris hit from earlier this year that became the focal point of a controversy between the former lovers when Swift revealed that she’d co-written the cut after originally keeping it a secret.
“As a songwriter, the most rewarding feeling in the world is writing something and then having the crowd sing it back to you because they know the words,” Swift said. “I’ve never played this song live, but if you know it, maybe you could sing along so I know what that feels like with this song?”
The audience of 80,000, which Swift thanked for amassing “from all around the world,” obliged enthusiastically and cheered particularly loudly when she struck the final note with dramatic intention, raising her finger from the key with ample so-there sass to match her mischievous smirk. That was the closest she came to performing new material, but she certainly took other strides to make this one-off extra special.
Amid a 15-song set comprised mostly of mainstay material off 1989 and Red — which melded seamlessly for a mid-set medley of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Bad Blood” — Swift served up a smattering of lesser played tunes: Fearless tracks “You Belong With Me” and “Fifteen,” relative Red rarity “Holy Ground,” plus Speak Now success “Sparks Fly,” an appropriately pyro-laden piano tune that hasn’t seen much action since 2013. Other highlights included the 26-year-old singer-songwriter’s dance-pop rework of 2008’s “Love Story,” bits of “Enchanted” embedded in “Wildest Dreams” and a dazzling fireworks display during surefire finale “Shake It Off.”
“I’ve been playing shows in Austin, Texas, for about 10 years now … and it’s been about 10 years since my first album came out,” Swift reflected. “Since then, I feel like I’ve been opening up my journal and letting you read it, and it feels so good that 10 years later, you still feel like reading it.”