Taylor Swift - Manchester Arena
It’s been 18 months since Taylor Swift played Manchester, and for her second tour, she’s stripped back some of the more showy staging elements that featured on the Fearless tour, bringing the music even more to the fore. There’s less video, and no showy props. That’s not to say the staging isn’t vibrant – the video screens in particular complement the music well – but it’s not the be all and end all. There are still plenty costume changes, even mid-song during a violin-led 'Enchanted', it’s that they’re not the point.
At the core, the Taylor Swift live experience is all about closeness to the fans. Both physical closeness – quite apart from having a b-stage on which she plays an acoustic set to make sure the back of the room doesn’t feel left out - she circles the arena repeatedly even before the show proper starts, shaking hands with fans, doing something extra to make their evening special.
It’s a gambit that works admirably. The first time she puts her hands above her head during 'Mine' and forms a heart, the crowd immediately mirrors her. Swift clearly has a knack for making a connection, even in an arena environment – not something all of her peers can boast. It’s also about closeness to their experience. Her music too is eminently relatable, primarily about the teenage condition – love, breakup and friendship all figure strongly.
The songs don’t disappoint. Highlights include current single 'Story Of Us', possibly the world’s most upbeat break-up song, an acoustic version of 'Fifteen' that causes a massed sing-along, and a ukelele version of 'Fearless' which somehow manages to incorporate a snippet of Jason Mraz's 'I'm Yours'. Her well documented triskaidekaphilia does, however pose one drawback– this fast paced thirteen song set feels a little short now that she has two albums under her belt. She saves the best for last, though, with hit single 'Love Story' – complete with white dress and confetti sending a satisfied teenage audience out onto the streets of Manchester.
Set list: Sparks Fly / Mine / The Story of Us / Back to December /Better Than Revenge / Speak Now / Fearless / Fifteen / You Belong With Me / Dear John / Enchanted / Long Live /// Love Story
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