The Opening Night of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour in Phoenix Was Pop Perfection | Phoenix New Times

The Opening Night of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour in Phoenix Was Pop Perfection

Swift kicked off her five-month U.S. tour with a blockbuster performance that dazzled the crowd.
Taylor Swift kicked off the Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on March 17.
Taylor Swift kicked off the Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium in Glendale on March 17. Jim Louvau
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Someday, many years from now, I suspect that being able to say "I was at opening night of the Eras Tour" will carry a great deal of pop culture cachet indeed.

Hell, it means a lot today. There were about 70,000 people inside Glendale's State Farm Stadium on Friday, March 17, when Taylor Swift kicked off her first tour in five years, and the world was definitely watching to see what the planet's biggest pop star had in store.

Swift had described the Eras Tour as a "journey through all of [her] musical eras," but no one knew exactly what that meant until this weekend. As the lights went down and the image of a clock popped up on the enormous backscreen, audience members coming back from the concession stand or the restrooms broke into a full run to take in every moment from their seats.

The 195-minute, 44-song show has been recapped by every media outlet from Variety and Consequence of Sound to The Guardian and CNN. Swift's musical journey manifested itself through a setlist broken down by all 10 of her studio albums.

She didn't go in chronological order, as songs from 2019's Lover, which she never got to properly promote because of the COVID-19 pandemic, were first. And she didn't give each album equal weight. Her 2006 debut album and 2010's Speak Now only got one song each, while 2020's Folklore had seven.

"You don't know how much it means to me to be able to say: Welcome to the Eras Tour," Swift said at the top of the show. "We have a lot of time to sum up how I feel about you and how much I've missed you."

And then she was off on a three-plus hour blockbuster show, an absolutely dazzling production that incorporated smoke, fire, confetti, props, and constant eye-popping onscreen visuals. At different points in the evening, she leaped into an opening below the stage and screens showed her "swimming" to the other side of the performance era; performed "Champagne Problems" at a moss-covered piano; and perched on the roof of a cabin during the Folklore portion.

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Swift changed into menswear for a rendition of "The Man."
Jim Louvau

And the costumes. The costumes. Swift wore about 20 different looks over the course of the show, including a crystal leotard during the Lover segment, a gold fringe dress for Fearless, a black cloak during Evermore, a snake-themed one-legged jumpsuit for Reputation — the only sartorial choice that didn't really land — a ballgown during Speak Now, an "A LOT going on at the moment" T-shirt for Red, a purple boho dress during Folklore, a sparkly magenta crop top and miniskirt ensemble during 1989, a voluminous red dress during Taylor Swift, and a dark blue sequined leotard with fringe for Midnights.

Swift kept the audience enraptured throughout the show, and if there were times that felt a little quieter or perhaps an ideal moment to make a run for the restroom, they were outnumbered by moments of overwhelming emotion. Swift performed a raw, vulnerable rendition of "All Too Well (Taylor's Version)." There were also moments of sheer pop music ecstasy — the building nearly exploded with joy and energy as 70,000 people sang along to "Red," "You Belong With Me," and "Look What You Made Me Do."

The crowd's adoration of Swift seemed matched by her love for them: "I missed you so much," she said during the Evermore segment. "There's no way to go into how much I missed you because there's no way to verbalize it. I've been trying to keep it together all night."

Swift closed the show with songs from Midnights, her most recent album, then thanked the audience for coming. As the crowd, high off the epic performance, headed out into the night, the vibe was one of gratitude. We were all lucky to have been there.

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State Farm Stadium was packed to the rafters for Swift's show.
Neil Schwartz Photography
Critic's Notebook

The Show: Taylor Swift with Gayle and Paramore at State Farm Stadium on March 17.

The Crowd: "The girls, gays, and theys," as Swift said, plus a smattering of patient boyfriends, husbands, and dads. Sparkly dresses were the look of the night, but plenty of fans came in costumes that referenced Swift's songs and iconic looks: think willow trees, mirror balls, cheerleaders, and that guy from the "You Belong to Me" music video.

Notebook Dump: I think every sequin in Phoenix is in this room tonight.

“Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince”
“Cruel Summer”
“The Man”
“You Need to Calm Down”
“The Archer”
“You Belong With Me”
“Love Story”
“Tis the Damn Season”
“Champagne Problems”
“Tolerate It”
“…Ready for It?”
“Don’t Blame Me”
“Look What You Made Me Do”
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
“I Knew You Were Trouble”
“All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”
“Invisible String”
“The Last Great American Dynasty”
“August”/ “Illicit Affairs”
“My Tears Ricochet”
“Blank Space”
“Shake It Off”
“Wildest Dreams”
“Bad Blood”
“Mirrorball” (acoustic)
“Tim McGraw” (acoustic)
“Lavender Haze”
“Midnight Rain”
“Vigilante Shit”
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