Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 06/22/2013 10:55 PM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 06/23/2013 1:11 AM | Updates
Taylor Swift made sparks fly at a sold-out show at Investors Group Field Saturday night.
The Winnipeg stop on America's sweetheart's megawatt Red tour, in support of her 2012 album of the same name, was the first concert to be held at the new stadium.
And what a show it was.
Don't let Swift's rosy-cheeked, aw-shucks act fool you; as she proved with her lavish two-hour show Saturday night, she's a commanding, confident performer. Taylor Swift is a bona fide pop star.
As an artist, she's also a bit of an chameleon, a point that's well-documented on Red. The album is a brave, bold stylistic departure for Taylor, and the accompanying stage show, which draws heavily from the record, is equally as bold-strokes with no shortage of thrilling choreography, double-digit costume changes and killer vocal acrobatics. The was no lip-synching here, folks, although it’d be easy to be fooled by her spot-on, seamless performances.
Opening with an appropriately stadium-sized track of the latest album, the anthemic, fists-in-the-air State of Grace, appearing in silhouette behind a red curtain before the big reveal. It was a spectacle — you gotta love pyrotechnics seven minutes into a show — and it set the bar high. Clad in a bowler cap, a white button down shirt, black leather hotpants and bright red loafers, she mugged to the jumbotrons, flashing a steely gaze before breaking into a wide "oh my gosh I can't believe you're here" grin.
OK, so she's still the adorkable pixie whom birds possibly help get dressed in the morning.
See, the thing about Swift is that she really, really wants you to like her. Her stage banter was self-effacing and charming, but it was more than little scripted. "The craziest emotions are red," she said with a spectacularly well-timed flick of her hair before grabbing a sparkly red guitar to rock out the title track.
From there, it was a veritable hit parade. Swift donned a sparkly cocktail dress and red elbow-length gloves to do a cute, Supremes-esque version of her super hit You Belong With Me, complete with backup dancers. It wasn't the night's only bit of winking theatricality; she wore a plunging screen siren to walk a red carpet while old-timey news reporters tried to grab a shot during Lucky One (a hat-tip to Britney Spears, perhaps?). She sat on an antique trunk, plucking a banjo while talking about being picked on before launching into one of the night's few countrified numbers, Mean. For that one, she temporarily transformed IGF into the Grand Ole Opry, her backing band alongside her.
Then Swift shifted gears and went totally Top 40. She did Stay, Stay, Stay, which broke down into a clap-along sample of The Lumineers' Ho Hey, before slipping on a letterman jacket (costume change number six, for the record) for a fun, lighthearted rendition of the hipster-mocking earworm 22, which was easily the night's biggest crowd-pleaser. She made full use of the gridiron, her catwalk extending almost the length of it.
The frenetic, dubstep-inflected I Knew You Were Trouble, another radio dominator, was absolutely electrifying. Swift went uncharacteristically sexy for that one, her hyper-stylized white Victorian gown ripped off by her dancers to reveal a slinky black bodysuit.
Some of the show's best moments came when she stripped things down and just let her soaring voice hit its glorious highs. The dusk performance of All Too Well, one of Red's most stunning ballads, was the evening's best showpiece for her stunning pipes — but when she stopped playing to gaze, eyes full of real or put-on tears, out at the crowd, the moment was lost. Taylor, you don't have to try quite so hard. We already really, really like you. The screams during the epic show finale, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, were deafening.
English wunderkind Ed Sheeran opened the show to thousands of screaming fans. It's more than likely you've heard Sheeran's name a lot as of late: His 2011 debut, +, went quintuple (yes, quintuple) platinum in the U.K. and he's blown up big in North America. Accompanied by only his looping pedal, his 40-minute set, which included a soulful rendition of Nina Simone's Feeling Good, felt intimate despite its stadium setting. The A Team made for a soaring set closer, Sheeran's voice as clear as the sky overhead.
Updated on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 1:11 AM CDT: adds slideshow and video
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Another late blow kills Jets
Assiniboine Park Zoo welcomes its seventh bear, Humphrey, from Toronto
Three injured after collision near Steinbach
Official: 2 found dead in rubble believed to be missing men
Tough break — shake it off
Plane hit antenna array before crash: TSB
Former GM of Winnipeg Jewish Theatre arrested while re-entering Manitoba
Simmons wins again at men's curling worlds
Brawl at Ross Avenue home injures three, up to 15 people involved
WWII heroes to give congressional gold medal to Ohio museum
Future Shops quietly shuttered; 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time jobs will be lost
Pull suicide into light of day
Timberlake offers positive words at iHeartRadio Music Awards
Neufeld crew claims gold
End of era for city's oldest A&W
The XXX Factor: Sex and relationships in a digital world
French conservatives win key local voting, gov't left loses
RCAF casts wary eye on Assad air defence
How crowd-sourcing may solve native health crisis
Sure things: Death, taxes and Pavelec in the pipes
Spence neighbourhood's barrier-free sports programming helping inner-city youth athletes
Movies to watch this week
Here are seven things to do in Winnipeg next week
New Brunswick passes demographic milestone
Arab League unveils joint military force amid Yemen crisis
No winner for $30 million 649 jackpot
Jolie delivers empowerment message at Kids' Choice Awards
Perreault ready to go
Canada wins opener at men's curling worlds
Chaotic start to Copp's career
North Dakota tops St. Cloud State to reach Frozen Four
Survived: No. 1 Kentucky holds off Notre Dame 68-66
Peterborough, Ont. Walmart locked down
Dubnyk stops 31 shots as Wild beat Kings 4-1
Boko Haram kills 41, prevents hundreds voting in Nigeria
Lights out Saturday for Earth Hour
Future Shop stores closing, 1,500 jobs lost
There's been little progress in uniting the NDP since leadership turmoil
Canada's Eugenie Bouchard upset at Miami Open
Local businessman has a plan for a Winnipeg without rail lines