Screaming, Crying, Perfect Storm: Eras Tour Review


Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” recalls the highlights of her long career. (Courtesy of Instagram)

When I was eight years old, my mom surprised me with tickets to the Speak Now World Tour as my First Communion present. Eight-year-old me, with a 13 drawn on the back of my hand and a messy poster I wouldn’t let go of, was so excited to see my favorite singer, and it was the best night of my life. 

Twelve years later, my mom fought through the Ticketmaster war to get tickets to the Eras Tour. Next thing we knew, we’re booking flights to Tampa, Fla. to see Taylor Swift again.

Thursday, April 13 marked the first of a three-day, sold-out stay at Raymond James Stadium. A beautiful pink and yellow sunset splashed across the blue sky, a fitting background to the opening era of the concert, “Lover.” “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” opened the show, leading into the fan-favorite “Cruel Summer.” The bridge came and my voice was shot, screaming the lyrics at the top of my lungs along with everyone else inside that stadium. 

The sky turned pitch black just in time for the last song of the era, “The Archer.” For my 20th birthday, I got this song’s lyrics tattooed on my arm, keeping the song and the book characters I connected with it tied to me forever. I was an absolute mess. The soft yellow lights on the stage and scattered throughout the stadium by our concert-issued light-up bracelets could have been distinct, singular lights, but I couldn’t tell — my tears made them all blend together. 

I got myself under control for the “Fearless” era. Filled with nostalgia, my friend and I were dancing through all three songs. Even the chaperoning dads and the dragged-along boyfriends and husbands were jumping to “You Belong With Me” and “Love Story” — the dad in front of us was having the time of his life with his little girl, who was probably no older than six. 

Next up was “evermore,” the long-lost and underappreciated album from Swift’s creative writing era of the COVID-19 pandemic. “evermore” is not as universal of an album as her others are, so as much as I love “champagne problems,” I was not expecting it to get the longest applause. Even Swift was confused, looking around the stadium, mouthing “I love you” into the camera connected to the big screens and said, “So you’re the best crowd, huh?”

“reputation” was up next, and the whiplash from “evermore” was intense. No concert video could compare to hearing the bridge of “Don’t Blame Me” live. It felt like I was blasting the song alone in my car, except now I was with over 200,000 other people who felt the same way. 

Sadly, “Speak Now” only has one song on the official setlist, but there truly was no better pick than “Enchanted.” It is such a beautiful song, and the live performance was straight out of a Disney princess movie: Swift stood center-stage in a beautiful floor-length dress, her dancers flowing around her in suits and ball gowns. 

The transition from “Speak Now” to “Red” was the only one where the albums were actually in chronological order. During Swift’s costume change, a dancer stood on stage with a big red box. When it opened, a one-line clip from a “Red” song played, but even after the box closed and the song stopped, the audience continued singing the next line until the box opened again, continuing until Swift emerged to sing “22.” 

Throughout the concert, many songs were cut short — there’s no way to fit 44 full-length songs into a singular concert. Also, she needed room to perform the entirety of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault).” Yes, she sang the entire 10 minutes of this song, and yes, I sang (screamed) every single word. 

Next, we got into “folklore,” the first of the creative writing era mentioned prior. No line up could compare to the final “folklore” four: “august,” “illicit affairs,” “my tears ricochet” and “cardigan.” Just tears, profanities and more tears as me and my friend sang to one of our favorite albums. Honestly, I deserve an apology for the emotional turmoil that lineup caused me.

I deserve an even bigger apology for the whiplash I got when “Style” came on immediately after. The “1989” era was definitely the most well-known among the crowd, rolling through the album’s five main songs. “1989” was pop excellence, equipped with a sparkly orange two-piece costume on Swift, easy-to-follow dances and… hitting an image of a car on the stage with blue light-up golf clubs? No matter what, it was a great time.

For every show, Swift performs an acoustic set of two surprise songs. Maybe it was coincidence, maybe it was fate, maybe it was telepathy between me and Swift. Whatever it was, I thank the mysterious element at play because my first secret song was “Speak Now” — the title track of the album for my first ever concert. Nostalgia poured over me and I couldn’t stop smiling as I sang along, looking out at the purple lights all around the stadium. The lights turned red as she sang the second secret song, “Treacherous,” where my friend and I sang the lyrics word-for-word but couldn’t figure out what song it was until the chorus’ first few chords began. 

A slight malfunction occurred in the transition to her final era. Usually, the floor opens and Swift dives head-first into the floor. This night, the floor didn’t open, and the real Swift watched the pre-recorded Swift swim across the stage. 

Eventually, she did her dive and costume change, bringing us to the tenth and final era of the concert, “Midnights.” Considering “Midnights” is my favorite of her albums (controversial, I know), I enjoyed every bit of the ending. From “Lavender Haze” to “Anti-Hero” to “Midnight Rain,” the “Midnights” era showcased the culmination of her 17-year career. “Vigilante S***” felt like I was watching “Cell Block Tango” from “Chicago,” and “Bejeweled” incorporated a cute, viral TikTok dance in its choreography. I wasn’t expecting to hear “Mastermind,” but the surprise was both pleasant and tear-inducing, as it is one of my favorites from the album. 

Tampa was the first outdoor show of the tour, so instead of confetti, we got to see fireworks light up the sky during the final song, “Karma.” Starting at 8 p.m. and ending at exactly 11:16 p.m., it was a picture-perfect ending to such a fulfilling and energetic night. Even the hour-long walk back to the hotel didn’t move the smile on my face. 

Music can be so meaningful, defining different parts of who we are and the life we’ve lived, and that’s exactly what the Eras Tour proved. “Fearless” and “Enchanted” were me singing into my karaoke machine in elementary school. “I Knew You Were Trouble” was me buying the “Red” album on my iPod Touch on release day in fifth grade. “Blank Space” and “Look What You Made Me Do” were the “I’m not like other girls” purple hair portion of middle school. “Lover” was listening to the car radio when I finally got my driver’s license. “betty” and “‘tis the damn season” were the loneliness of quarantine. “The Archer” helped me make it through my senior year of high school, while “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)” got me through my first semester of college. And now, “Karma” is helping me make it through finals.

Writing this conclusion feels like I’m closing out another era of my life, in some weird way. So, for those of you who got tickets, enjoy every second of your show, and I really hope you don’t get to hear “the lakes” live. And thank your mom, especially if she took you to see Taylor Swift twice.