Taylor Swift @ Optus Stadium
w/ Charli XCX, Broods
Friday, October 19, 2018
What is it about a reputation that makes us so anxious? That was the theme of Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour at her Australian opener and first Perth appearance since 2013 on Friday night.
Swift shared plenty of herself with the heaving Optus Stadium crowd, and spoke revealingly about her thoughts on how rumours, fake news and so-called reputations can dilute a person’s chance at finding something real in their life. In doing so she came across as real as possible in a 50,000 person setting.
More than that it was an eye-popping marvel that in many ways had to be seen to be believed, with a 34-metre high stage that pulled apart and moved around like a transformer. But we’ll get to that.
New Zealand’s Broods opened the night and frontwoman Georgia Nott’s matching three-piece peach outfit and pink hair were on theme for huge new single Peach, which acted as both walk-on music and closed their set. While the impressive get up gave her a new Katy Perry-style look, their better songs Bridges and Free are more in the vein of Lorde (with whom they share producer Joel Little).
Charli XCX also impressed with a retro-futuristic stage design and visuals to match. Her infectious energy and catalogue of hits had punters out of their seats two songs in for Icona Pop collaboration I Don’t Care, while Break the Rules was a highlight and local sensation Troye Sivan featured on the screens for latest single 1999. Boys was the standout however, while finishing on her Iggy Azalea collab Fancy was a hit with the crowd.
Credit to Tay Tay for giving her support acts plenty of production to play with – these were better than average support sets in a world where warm up acts often get lost on the big stages.
Following a video introduction, the familiar call of “Baby let the games begin” rang out repeatedly around Optus Stadium, signalling perhaps the most impressive onstage entrance Perth has ever witnessed. No expense was spared as screens in the centre of the stage parted and Taylor Swift emerged, shortly before dancers rose out of the twin catwalks either side of her and …Ready For It worked the crowd into a frenzy.
I Did Something Bad made it a one-two punch to start, with fireworks, pyros and scintillating choreography, its witch hunt theme accentuated in the live arena and a lingering pause as she sang “I don’t regret it one bit… Because he had it coming” revving up the young crowd.
Gorgeous finally gave us a chance to catch our breath before a medley of Style, Love Story and You Belong With Me were clear crowd favourites. There’s a fair argument to be made that more of these numbers and a couple less from Reputation might have made for a better show – she did play 14 of the 15 tracks from her new album after all.
Then again, she also performed an epic, confetti laden Shake It Off on one of two B stages, Blank Space got a look in, Long Live from her Speak Now album solo on a grand piano, plus Should’ve Said No and Bad Blood mashed together. Then there was an acoustic version of I Knew You Were Trouble. which was a clear singalong highlight as voices and light up wristbands (given to each punter on entry) came together as one.
While Swift’s desire get out to the far reaches of the stadium was admirable, the night’s highlights were clearly while she was prowling the main stage, showing up her backing dancers and showing off the industrial stage set and its moving parts. Alternately it revealed her 6-piece backing band, various video incarnations and five or six levels of rigging under an enormous lights set up.
Don’t Blame Me in particular was a pyro-laden highlight, while the finale was an all too short interpolation of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together combined with This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things and served as a well earned victory lap, complete with a multi level water feature centre stage.
Having missed out on the 1989 tour in favour of Adelaide a few years back it was tempting to think going in that Perth pulled the short straw in getting the less popular Reputation tour. But anyone who thought that was missing the fact that regardless of what you think of Swift’s latest record, the huge synths and walls of sound were always bound to translate well live and through a huge sound system.
And that’s exactly what we got on Friday. A state of the art production bigger than just about anything ever staged in Perth (only Roger Waters at Perth Arena this year compares in recent memory), combined with an once in a generation pop star who was never going to let all the bells and whistles overshadow that her fans were there to see her. It’s that ability to give a personal touch to everything she does that’s the stuff reputations are made of.
Photos by Linda Dunjey