By: Nevra Azerkan
Rating: [The Breakdown]
This review is going to be a little different from the ones I usually write mostly because I got a special opportunity and decided to write about it along with the show review. I was able to be a part of the Grammy U: Sound Checks with Taylor Swift event. Twenty of us got to watch Taylor do her sound check, participate in a Q & A, and watch her do a press conference and a few press interviews. I didn’t know what to expect, but I left very impressed with her.
We started off by watching her perform two songs during her sound check. She came to the front of the stage to greet us and began explaining to us what she was doing and what we would be seeing. She sang the song “Closer” by Tegan and Sara and told us that they would be her special guests that night and that they would all be performing the song together. Once all her dancers had arrived, they jumped into “I Knew You Were Trouble”. Even though they were not in costume they gave one hell of a performance and we got to catch that from the front row.
After that she invited some of her crew to sit down with her on the front of the stage by us to answer any questions we had. Her answers were well thought out and oh-so-honest. I asked her about compliments that she receives. After all, she must get told on a daily basis some sort of compliment and I’m sure they all mean a lot to her, but if there was just one that she would never forget, which one would it be and who was it from. She had to think about it for a few seconds before saying “Wow, that’s an interesting question.” She finally said it was after performing with Carly Simon and Carly told her that was the most fun she has ever had on stage. She also said that whenever a fan tells her that a specific line from one of her songs means a lot to them that that’s one of the greatest things because her songwriting is such a big part of her.
We wrapped up the questions, took a group photo and then Mama Swift took us on a tour of the backstage which people like to call “Taylor’s Village”. She showed us many of the props and explained that Taylor designed everything on the tour ten months before the tour began. We got to go up close to the instruments that she uses during the show and Mama Swift let us in on a few secrets that I won’t divulge. Overall, it was super informative and we left that part of the tour knowing how involved Taylor is with everything that she does.
We got to watch the press conference that she had with executives for breaking the record of sold out shows for a solo artist at The Staples Center. Yep, she’s sold out a whopping 11 shows at the venue—that’s huge. She told the press why we were there and then informed us that she held back 20 tickets for us to attend the sold out show that night. That was crazy cool of her to do. We were and still are extremely grateful for that. We ended our event with Taylor by watching her do two international press interviews via satellite. She thanked us for spending time with her (yeah, more like the other way around!) and then we got our tickets for the show.
I had to take care of a few things before attending the concert, so I didn’t get the chance to see the sets of Casey James or Ed Sheeran. I have seen Ed Sheeran in the past and I’m sure he wowed the crowd like he usually does. But I made it just in time to see T-Swizzle. Taylor’s set is what you imagine a headlining set to be. She had the theatrics, the glam, dancers, costumes and the confidence. Each song had an elaborate backdrop that really brought them alive. Knowing that she creates the entire setting you know that what you are seeing is exactly how she envisioned each song when she wrote them. You can’t get more personal than that.
Her fans were insane and were pumped up throughout the entire show. She had a main stage and a small stage across from it, so that fans further back could also get the chance to be in the front row. She performed her duet with Ed Sheeran and just seeing them play guitar and sing was so special. Sometimes the simplicity of a tune can have a great impact and those two captured the very essence of it in that moment. A few songs later she invited Tegan and Sara on stage to cover their hit, “Closer” with her. I’ve never seen them live before, but it was obvious that the crowd loved them. Song after song, Taylor came out with something captivating and you just didn’t know when it would stop getting better and better until the night was over.
Her set list included: “State of Grace”, “Holy Ground”, “Red”, “You Belong With Me”, “The Lucky One”, “Mean”, “22”, “Fifteen”, “Everything Has Changed” (duet with Ed Sheeran), “Begin Again”, “Sparks Fly”, “Closer” (Tegan and Sara cover with special guests Tegan and Sara), “I Knew You Were Trouble”, “All Too Well”, “Love Story”, “Treacherous” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”.
Taylor’s Red Tour is so successful and becomes an unforgettable experience for her fans all because everything she does in the show is for the fans. I’ve never seen so many smiling faces in an arena. If her goal is for them to leave happy with a memory of a lifetime then she can consider that mission accomplished.