When it comes to Taylor Swift I am unequivocally biased in her favour, without Taylor Swift, music in general may just have been background noise to me, in car entertainment at best but now my life revolves around music. Taylor Swift made me sit up and listen from that very first album and opened up a whole new World to explore. Without her, I wouldn’t have picked up a guitar, wrote songs or even started this website and begun presenting on the radio. Yes my life revolves around music, not just Taylor but Country music and now Taylor has turned to pop, do I love her any less? Well of course not. I can’t write pop music, I only write decidedly average Country tunes and nor do I know a lot about pop music but I do know a good musician, a good songwriter and a good person when I see one. The fact Taylor has gone in a completely different direction from that very first album we heard from her back when she was just in her mid teens shows her growth and versatility as a songwriter especially when you think that at the same time as she was writing these pop songs for her Reputation album she was writing a Grammy award winning Country song for Country group Little Big Town.
But ever since day one Taylor has not only been a great songwriter and singer she has been an all round entertainer. That’s something you can expect from a multi-award winning, platinum selling pop star but even in the early days on the Fearless tour, her first world tour, when she played the Manchester arena and they curtained off the top tier because it didn’t sell out, Taylor put on an incredible mind-blowing show for her young fans and five World tours into Taylor’s incredible career she is still taking her fans breath away and winning over audiences all over the World. Without further ado, in no particular order, we’re going to bring you twenty top Taylor Swift tour tricks!
Words in the Rain: The finale of the Fearless tour was spectacular, whilst most people hate the rain Taylor created the rain inside Arenas all over the World. She ended on Should’ve Said No and in the final chorus not only did the rain come down and Taylor perform in her little back dress getting soaking wet, but words were somehow cut out into the water as it fell. And that of course wasn’t the last time we saw a water theme in her shows with light up umbrellas in the 1989 tour, with Taylor’s dress also lighting up. More recently she concluded Reputation with a fountain which she of course dipped her hair in!
Getting closer to the audience: In the Journey to Fearless DVD, Andrea, Taylor’s mum says she thinks going out into the audience, hugging fans and shaking their hands as she walks down the aisles is something Taylor needs and wants to do. Despite her popularity growing and security these days being higher than ever, Taylor still finds a way to walk through the crowd during every show and shake peoples hands and hug them. She always has at least one B stage at the back of the arena/stadium and has platforms and zip wires so she can be lifted up on these various stages too! On these B Stages she often plays more intimate or stripped back versions of her songs, showing off her songwriting in it’s rawest form and demonstrating her versatility as a performer as well.
T-party: Most Swifties know about the T-party room on the fearless tour. This is a room set up backstage which had ping-pong, pizza and most importantly… Taylor. Yes crazy fans were picked out the crowd to meet Taylor backstage after every show. This continued on every tour. Unfortunately despite my attempts to get in this room on various tours, I haven’t yet succeeded. So far I’ve tried dressing up as a donkey, made numerous signs, some of which lit up, showed up super early to venues and danced like there’s no tomorrow. I almost lost a shoe once running down the aisle to try and shake her hand as she passed the bottom of my section of seats… maybe next time! For those who have been successful in meeting Taylor though, they have all said how kind, caring and humble she is and I do love seeing fans photos they have gotten with the mega-star.
On-stage costume changes: A rather unique thing Taylor Swift does and does well is on stage dress changes. Two very memorable ones happened in the Fearless tour, firstly in You Belong With Me when she’s dressed in her marching band outfit and then her dancers pulled it from her to reveal a silver dress. The second was in Love Story where she wore a beautiful Red ball gown and all of a sudden she was wearing a wedding dress! Similarly on the red tour during I Knew You Were Trouble, Taylor’s white dress was whipped off, during Shake It Off on the reputation tour her multi-coloured dress was torn off and a black leotard was underneath.
Stage, Scenery, Imagery: Every tour has had an interesting set up when it comes to the stage. Fearless had the white stage with castle turrets which you could project any image on in any given song. Speak Now was similar with staircases and various ways which Taylor could enter and exit. Red and 1989 had an interesting catwalk which actually lifted up in the air and extended so Taylor was closer to fans higher up and further back and it actually rotated sideways on. The reputation tour had two long arms coming off centre stage and two B stages along with a series of screens which moved to allow for props and people to enter and exit and also hid the band on a separate platform. In fact on this tour it takes six 747’s and 67 lorries to move this set-up around the World. This brings me onto my next point.
Modern Technology: The reputation tour had an LED wall and stage, it took 85 people 5 months to produce the contents of that wall. It’s made up of 12 columns that create over 30 different looks throughout the show and there’s approximately 8.3 million pixels in the wall and stage. Impressive right? The effect this has along with the light wristbands that everyone gets on arrival, which she first used on the 1989 tour, is really incredible.
Getting from A to B: How do you get from one side of the arena to the other whilst singing a song when the whole room is calling for your attention? Well, Taylor has been known just to walk through all those people but sometimes you’ve got to get there without getting disturbed! That’s where zip wires come in to play! This latest tour she used zip wires twice, her first carriage was illuminated Gold and the second was like the skeleton of a snake. But this isn’t the first time she’s used something like this, she first used an airborne platform on the Red tour which had lights all around the base.
Forever and Always: Lets go off topic slightly… In the Phantom of the Opera (my favourite musical) there is a specific scene which is my favourite. It happens just after a big song and the phantom sings a refrain where you can barely hear the words he sings as he cries - heartbroken, then within a split second his pain turns to anger as he sings “You will curse the day you did not do all that the Phantom asked of you.” I always say in that moment you know if you have a good Phantom or a bad one from the way he shows those emotions. On the Fearless tour, Taylor has a dress change during which a video plays of a mock interview. She reappears sat with an interviewer on big red chairs, during Forever and Always Taylor throws one of these giant chairs off the top stage then later we see her lay on the floor near to tears as fans reach out to hold her hands, comforting her almost. I loved the chair throw, but I love how she demonstrates the different emotions of a breakup just in one song, in one performance.
Talking of emotions: Taylor writes about real life, very personal songs that the World has related to. There are some powerful messages in her songs and one thing she does excellently is deliver clear and precise speeches before certain songs, she has a way of saying exactly what you needed to hear. Speeches have been delivered in connection to Long Live, Delicate, Fearless, Mean, the list is endless. Some are funny and some are just heartfelt snippets of advice. Most recently though she addressed the Manchester crowd about the events of last year at the Ariana Grande concert and it was a beautiful tribute. Just a few days earlier she addressed the crowd in Chicago with an emotional speech to mark the beginning of Pride month.
Mash-Ups: Taylor has a vast collection of songs now that she’s written and also a vast collection of cover songs she does well. Unfortunately one evening of a tour is not long enough to hear them all however if she mashes some of them together, you can fit more in! I appreciated Should’ve Said No mixed in with Bad Blood on this latest tour, in fact there were four mash-ups in this tour! One of my favourite medley’s happened on the Speak Now tour when Taylor played Back to December mixed in with One Republics Apologise and You’re Not Sorry.
Instrumental interludes: Talking of Speak Now, Taylor has always had an exceptional band supporting her. Some members like Paul Sidoti and Amos Heller have been there right from the start. In the Speak Now tour whilst Taylor changed outfits there was a chance for some members of the band to demonstrate their level of musicianship. Firstly Paul Sidoti and Grant Mickelson had an epic guitar riff-off at the end of Better Than Revenge whilst Caitlyn Evanson played the fiddle beautifully in the lead up to Enchanted.
Costumes: We’ve discussed Taylor’s costume changes quite a bit now. Let’s give you a few facts, on the fearless tour there were 72 costume changes and currently on the reputation tour there are 500 wardrobe pieces. Everyone gets involved, Taylor gets changed, her band get changed, the dancers get changed. The outfits are impressive, most of them, if not all of them are shiny and glittery whilst some are representative of the story being told like in Love Story. Sometimes when this is happening a video will play to the fans so they’re not just sitting in silence. This tour we heard a poem from Taylor Swift called Why She Disappeared and during Fearless there was one funny video where some of the people Taylor had written a song about spoke about the impact it had on their life - it even featured the real Tim McGraw!
Props: It’s not just the stage and the costumes that make up the visuals of the show but also the use of props. On the 1989 World tour during Out of the Woods the dancers waved giant paper airplanes above the crowd on long poles and there were light up umbrellas to match Swift’s light up dress. Reputation had three fifty foot snakes - what more could you want?! It had some kind of seesaw too and a fountain. Simple things like benches, bells and trees are all essential and are often operated by Taylor and/or her dancers.
Guitars: Recently on the reputation tour a green acoustic was whipped out for Taylor to play a couple of songs stripped back. Throughout her various tours though Taylor has played some gorgeous guitars - most of them were Taylor Guitars but we did see a Gibson or two in there. Some highlights were the glittery silver acoustic which she’s had since forever. Apparently that was originally a black guitar that Taylor and her mum spent hours covering with little silver sequins. Other guitars include a blue acoustic with fish around the sound hole, a Taylor twelve string and a red electric with glittery swirl decoration. On the Fearless tour during Should’ve Said No Taylor throws her black electric guitar to one of her tour crew on all 118 shows, that must have been a nervous moment for the guy catching it every night!
Dancers: I always wondered wether Taylor’s dancers knew what they were getting into when they signed up for these tours. Not only do they dance but they act and on occasion bungie jump… yes you read that right. On the red tour her dancers were on harnesses with large drums and they seemed to be lifted up and down from quite a height as they hit the drums in time to the music. This tour her dancers seemed to jump off the platform behind the screen where the band was situated and bungie back up during Bad Blood, they looked like Human yoyo’s! Not to mention all the many costume changes they have to do within about two minutes!
Guest Artists: The US benefitted most from this but throughout her various tours guest artists have popped up. On 1989 Taylor invited everyone from Idina Menzel, Pitbull and Miranda Lambert. When I saw her twice in London on the Red tour she brought out Danny O’Donoghue from The Script and Emeli Sande. On the Speak Now tour she brought out past support act Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez and even on Fearless she brought out one of her support acts Kellie Pickler to sing The Best Days of Your Life.
Stage Strut: When I talk to my Gran about Taylor Swift, who has seen her live twice now, she always talks about the way she walks. I mean she owns that stage, quite literally but she struts and skips down those catwalks like nobody else I know. It mesmerised my Gran the first time she saw her! And over the years the stage strut has become a signature move for Taylor but her dancing has become considerably better over the five tours too! Don’t get me wrong I loved Taylor’s hair flicks and spinning several times whilst playing the guitar but now she is pulling off some great professional moves alongside her dancers.
Cover Songs: Taylor has included her own versions of other people’s songs in her tours, particularly on the Speak Now tour. In each city she visited in the US she spontaneously played a different cover song each night usually from an artist who came from that city. These included Drops of Jupiter, Bette Davis Eyes and I Want You Back which also all featured on the live album she released after the tour.
Big Drums: Taylor Swift concerts are pretty loud to begin with but Taylor can’t resist making them a little louder by adding some kind of large drum or percussion instrument that she usually enjoys playing too! On the Fearless tour there were large steel drums that Taylor and fiddle player Caitlyn enjoyed playing whilst whipping their hair back and forth. On the American leg of the Speak Now tour Taylor hit a giant bell during Haunted whilst on the red tour she played a large floor tom type drum whilst her dancers bungie jumped up and down playing the same kind of drum. On this latest tour she had six large gongs which her dancers played.
Grand Finale’s: Throughout Taylor’s set you can expect everything from confetti to bubbles, Pyrotechnics to fireworks but her finale’s are always pretty impressive. As a massive fan of all things circus related, I loved the ending to the red tour where Taylor dressed as a circus master and her dancers were dressed as clowns and confetti rained down on the fans as she concluded her set with We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Our first point addressed fearless’ finale but perhaps one of the most memorable finale is from the reputation tour where Taylor concluded with a mash-up of We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. Taylor and her dancers danced in a fountain and as they stood lapping up the audiences applause a firework display ensued with fireworks erupting both from the main stage and the two B stages at the back of the arena.
At just twenty years old Taylor Swift won a CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year that was the first of many establishments that would award her that accolade throughout her career. No matter how many times you see her, there will be an element to her show that takes your breath away. There will be moments that leave you stunned, shocked or surprised and times when you wonder “how is that possible?” That is what a true entertainer does and a night at a Taylor Swift concert is a night you’ll never forget!