Review: The Eras Tour is the tour of our generation
Taylor Swift culminates her discography and draws on memories fans have associated with her and her music.
At 7:54 p.m., “it’s been a long time coming,” echoed through the speakers of Gillette Stadium. Every seat was filled with a programmed, light-up bracelet as Taylor Swift emerged for The Eras Tour on Sunday, May 21. The Eras Tour does not just break the record for the first billion dollar tour, but it marks 17 years of Swift’s music and fan memories.
Leaving campus at 11:30 a.m., I drove from Hanover to Foxboro, Massachusetts with a car full of friends on Green Key Sunday. With a Walmart stop on the way, the five of us soon had matching, red-heart sunglasses and car paint to write “Getaway Car” on the back windshield. After my car was marked, people on the highway rolled down their windows with wrists covered in friendship bracelets and hands marked with Swift’s signature “13.” Cheers and hand-hearts added to Swift’s blasting discography during the drive to Gillette. As we neared Foxborough, increasingly more cars were painted and windows rolled down.
Once inside the stadium, lines for merchandise held thousands of people. Sold out signs were posted on half the merchandise just an hour after gates opened. The energy of the stadium was unmatched.
At 6:30 p.m., the concert began as Gracie Abrams took the stage. After her new album “Good Riddance,” I heavily anticipated seeing her live for the first time. A highlight of her performance was “Where Do We Go Now?” with the repetitive singable chorus and deeper building bridge. Phoebe Bridgers picked up around 7 p.m. with her beautifully narrative set. Projections of a house behind her added to the storyline, and it was in flames by her last song “I Know The End.” Stand out moments included the crowd singing along to “Graceland Too” and screaming along in “I Know The End.”
As the anticipation for Swift brewed, the sun was setting above the stadium. There was something magical about being in the 300 level of the stadium, so close to the sky, already having heard two artists that I love. I managed to make it through the shrinking merch line between Bridgers’s and Swift’s sets — running back to my seat in time for the final seconds of Swift’s clock countdown.
Swift’s three-hour set went through every “Era” of her discography. In order it was: “Lover,” “Fearless,” “evermore,” “Reputation,” “Speak Now,” “Red,” “folklore,” “1989” and “Midnights.” Between “1989” and “Midnights,” Swift played her two acoustic surprise songs, which change at every concert. Her surprise songs are subject of mass speculation, and this night’s happened to be “I Think He Knows” and “Red.” Swift typically plays one on the piano and one on guitar, but after a piano malfunction, she played “Red” on the guitar as well.
The setlist showcased Swift’s versatility as an artist throughout her career. I was moved by the “Fearless” and “Red” sets, as they pulled me back to memories of childhood and my mother. I was reminded of the “Red” tour I attended exactly 10 years ago. And how now I am listening to Swift with years of memories that have crescendoed to this moment. I, like many others, have grown up with Swift. Her performance of “Love Story” especially held a unique nostalgia, as the song is one of her beloved early hits, originally from 2008.
A big highlight in the performance for me were her “folklore” and “evermore” sets. “‘tis the damn season” opened on a stage with pine trees, ethereal costumes and projections. In the same Era, “willow” had some of my favorite choreography from the incredibly talented backup dancers. Swift performed a mash-up of “august” and “illicit affairs,” which was breathtaking with the powerful lyrics from “illicit affairs.” Additionally, Swift performed a song dedicated to her grandmother, “marjorie.” Looking up at the sky from the full stadium while listening to “marjorie,” with Swift’s late grandmother’s voice singing along with her in the backtrack of the song, was one of the most magical moments of the tour.
Something I especially appreciated about the “folklore” and “evermore” sets was the technical aspects. While the rest of the tour was spectacular, the technical aspects relied heavily on projections and a rising tiered platform with minimal physical setpieces. In “folklore” and “evermore,” trees lined the mainstage, and a house structure came out from the back wall. Leaning on projections is understandable with the scale of the tour, but there’s something special about Swift’s performance when she engages with physical setpieces.
In the more upbeat Eras, “Don’t Blame Me,” “Enchanted,” and “Bad Blood” stood out to me as especially impressive performances. “Don’t Blame Me” highlights Swift’s vocals, as she’s on a raised tier platform in the “Reputation” Era. “Enchanted,” is the only song from “Speak Now” that Swift performs, but done in a magnificent ball gown, she captures the audience. Finally, “Bad Blood” features the technical prowess of the show, with pyrotechnics that I could feel heat from even in the 300 level.
Swift dedicated a decent amount of the show to her new album, “Midnights,” which was released in Oct. 2022. My personal favorite performance was “Mastermind,” as the stage turned into a chessboard. Besides being a great performance, “Mastermind” highlighted the reality that Swift really is the mastermind of the fan base she has created. Dedicated fans show up to the show in full costume, some referencing inside jokes from her songs. I even dressed up as a key because of a lyric in “Getaway Car.” Not only has Swift broken records with this tour, but she has created an experience that moves beyond music for a lot of her fans.
Outside of the stadium, thousands of fans stood and listened to the tour, unable to get tickets for whatever reason. When Swift performed her last song, “Karma,” and confetti flew through the air, it was past 11:30 p.m. With more than four hours of performances, a full stadium and even more people outside, the concert felt more like a festival than just a concert.
Of course, the thousands of people pushed Foxboro and Gillette Stadium’s infrastructure to its limits. I thought I had planned ahead by paying for a parking spot outside of Gillette parking. But, by the time I got out of the stadium and to my car, it was past 12:30 a.m., and we still couldn’t get out of the parking lot. It was almost 2:30 a.m. when we finally exited the Hertz parking lot. Ambulances attempted to help dehydrated concert attendees, and police directed traffic on every small corner.
In an attempt to get back in time for 9L’s, I set off on the highway at 3 a.m. Arriving in Hanover at 5:30 a.m., the sun was rising and Baker tower appeared through the fog. With everyone asleep in my car, I found myself reflecting on my growth and how Taylor Swift has marked such distinct Eras in my own life. With every stage or change in my life, I can remember turning to a specific song or an album for support. What started as me and my mother listening to her Christmas album has become me interning in New York City listening to her multiple other albums.
Taylor Swift really has been the backdrop of a generation, finding our own “Place in this World.” This record-breaking tour, while being technically incredible, is even more than that. The Eras tour is a culmination of everything Swift has done, but also every memory that I, and many others, have associated with Swift’s music.