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
Three mayoral candidates snubbed by Downtown BIZ
Missing, murdered women a job for police: PM
Back to B.C. for CEO's family
PCs criticize government spending on 'boastful' ads at construction projects
Havixbeck wants Mealshare program for Winnipeg to help soup kitchens
Companies must be transparent: watchdog
Most appeals granted, benefits tribunal says
Al's Brink expected to take the field against former Bomber teammates Friday
Gas leak forces evacuations in the Maples
Vegas trip, payouts questioned
American Ebola doc: 'I am thrilled to be alive'
Israel kills 3 Hamas military commanders in Gaza
Province launches consultations on new chartered professional accountant designation
Hwy. 1 reopened after collision
Man sought in connection with gas station robbery on Kenaston
Man suffers serious injuries after getting stabbed in Carlton and Graham area
Police looking for teen who groped woman near Netley Street and North Drive
'Pulling out all of the stops'
Man sought after Portage la Prairie home invasion
Man charged after cellphone found recording in women's washroom
Manitoba farmers expect solid soybean harvest, but decline in other crops
Local doctor pioneered child-abuse investigations
Have we reached a turning point?
Harper embarking on annual northern tour
Police looking for man after girls approached
Man charged after drug bust on Sargent turns up marijuana, cash
Rom-com’s title raises eyebrows in the U.S.
Dreary weekend in store for southern Manitoba
Imam to draw attention to threat of ISIS
Firefighters battle overnight blazes
A Pollyanna approach to teaching environmentalism that’s less depressing
Pleasure in the park
The stories they could tell
Boarders gather in Headingley for national championship
Old TV show gave novelist time and place for Outlander series
Irish peacemaker, ex-premier Reynolds dies at 81
Hearing set in Amish girls' kidnapping in NY