Live Review: Taylor Swift stuns in Liverpool with landmark 100th show of Eras tour

Live Review: Taylor Swift stuns in Liverpool with landmark 100th show of Eras tour

“You broke the all-time attendance record for this stadium tonight,” grins Taylor Swift early on during her triumphant set in Liverpool. “You and I are going to go on a grand adventure together. It spans 18 years of music, one era at a time. How does that sound? You’re gonna hear a lot of songs. A lot.

The ecstatic roar that greets her in return reaches fever pitch (quite literally in the case of those standing above the hallowed turf of Anfield) in milliseconds. This deafening noise is the by-product of months of waiting and, more specifically, days of white-hot anticipation that has seen Liverpool’s topography transformed with TaySway art installations. The University Of Liverpool has a special Swift-inspired curriculum on the go. Hell, even former Liverpool FC manager Jürgen Klopp is back at Anfield – having just bid an emotional farewell to the ground – to witness it. There is something special in the air, other than the biting wind and rain. It’s not lost on the person at the epicentre of it all.  

“This is the 100th show of the tour, that blows my mind – that doesn’t feel like a real statistic to me,” she confesses. It’s actually surprising to hear that any stat could shock Swift at this point given just how many of them the Eras Tour – the highest grossing tour ever – has generated. Having already been captured in a brilliant 3.5 hour concert film, every song, costume, neon bike, fan interaction, self-filmed fan reaction, onstage speech, superlative-riddled review and more has been scrutinised in forensic detail online. This, in turn, creates its own special kind of hurdle. How do you make a show everyone has already digested so many times via social media feel fresh every time? 

Before we find out Swift's solution, however, Paramore are on hand to open proceedings. The group have, for a long time now, been making headline arena tours and festival bookings look like a doddle. It is no surprise, then, that they make themselves at home at Anfield. Partly this is down to the star wattage of Hayley Williams – be it the striking power of her voice, her audience engagement (“Liverpool, my babies!”), or the fact that she’s sporting a cool AF jacket with a vintage pic of Taylor Swift on the back bearing the words ‘Feminine Rage’. Add to this that Paramore sound tighter than ever as they deliver a procession of hits – Misery Business, The Only Exception, Still Into You, Ain’t It Fun, This Is Why – and it is only the inauspicious time of the day and the truncated set time that stops it from feeling like a headline show in its own right. 

This is the 100th show of the tour, that blows my mind – that doesn’t feel like a real statistic to me

Taylor Swift

That honour, however, belongs to someone else. What follows Taylor Swift’s arrival onstage is, by any stretch of the imagination, and even when held up against the loftiest of expectations, extraordinary. As befitting a place of Anfield’s stature, the audience are treated to a tactical masterclass, albeit in setlist formation as opposed to squad. The Eras Tour starts with tracks from Lover, it ends with a string of tracks from Midnights, and what happens in between is the closest thing to Beatlemania this particular city has surely seen since, well, The Beatles. Yes, Taylor is performing, but so, too, is her crowd: in full pageantry and booming voice. During the mass karaoke to the bridge de résistance of Cruel Summer the thought occurs that in any other set it would be the crowning moment of the night. We’re two songs in. You can probably just imagine, then, the kind of reaction Shake It Off, Bad Blood, Love Story, 22, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Look What You Made Me Do, Blank Space and Anti-Hero elicit later. Welcome to Anfield (Taylor’s Version). Even the security guards are dancing. 

It takes anthems such as these to lift a crowd up to the heavens in this way, but it also takes real mastery to safely bring them back down without losing them. In lesser hands, the sonic and emotional gear-change would be jarring. Instead, the Folklore/Evermore stints offer incontrovertible proof that of all the myriad tricks up her sleeve, Swift’s gift of locating intimacy within colossal spectacle is actually her greatest. The divine quietude of Cardigan, Betty and Willow make a place as cavernous as Anfield feel as snug as Liverpool's legendary Cavern. Judging from the sustained –and we mean sustained – round of applause afterwards, it’s arguable that no single song aired tonight goes down as well Champagne Problems.  

Another key part of how the Eras Tour 2.0 is unfolding revolves around the integration of The Tortured Poets Department tracks, the mood music of which makes for an interesting job in a stadium set nestled between highlights from 1989 and Midnights. At least in theory. In practice, But Daddy I Love Him, Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me?, Down Bad, Fortnight, The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived and I Can Do It With A Broken Heart go down a storm. These songs are but a couple of months old, yet are now seemingly burned into the memory of all in attendence like they have been in her catalogue for years. A special mention here must also be given to the person near Music Week sporting incredibly accurate temporary Post Malone face tattoos just for Fortnight. Top work. 

No matter how familiar anyone may be with The Eras Tour, you never know what Swift will unveil in the acoustic surprise song section. To this end, Liverpool gets the red carpet treatment. For her “first sold-out show in Liverpool!” she opts for I Can See You – a nod of appreciation to Liverpool given its music video was filmed in the city – expertly spliced with Mine. Swift follows by delivering Lover’s Cornelia Street retrofitted with Midnights’ Maroon. Both – or all four, depending on your view – are impeccable. It’s not just surprise choices either. Part of what continues to keep the Eras tour fresh is the off-the-cuff human touch Swift brings between songs. “This is definitely the windiest date of the Eras Tour,” she says as the Mersey tempest blows her hair across her face. “Very cinematic.” Later she quips, “I can do it with a runny nose,” as she repurposes her own title I Can Do It With A Broken Heart as the bitter cold starts to bite. "Do you have a spare 10-minutes?" she smiles at another point as she launches into All Too Well (Taylor's Version). 

Inevitably, tonight there will be some who did not get to hear their dream Swift song aired. Material from her debut remains, sadly, AWOL. But whatever particular heartache anyone could have about missing their favourite verse in the gospel according to Saint Swift [there's no Back To December, cough cough], it ultimately pales into insignificance compared to the unity of effect on offer: a set that captures an extraordinary artist at the peak of her powers. Indeed, what astounds is that this tour – so scrutinised, so excessively, exhaustively written about – not only survives all the hype and expectation, it transcends it. Questions abound for another day: Has Swift now somehow officially outgrown stadiums? Where does she go from here? How can she possibly top this? 

As it once was, so it will always be: Swift will have the answers.

PHOTO: Taylor Swift performing at Anfield on June 13, 2024 (credit: Gareth Cattermol/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

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