Photos and Review by: Cristina Suciu
Author’s Instagram: Cristinahsuciu
Lineup: GAYLE, Phoebe Bridgers ft. Matty Healy, Taylor Swift
Date: May 12th, 2023
Location: Lincoln Financial Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
When it comes to writing a review of a Taylor Swift concert, it’s hard to find the right words to describe just how amazing the show she puts on really is. How can one accurately portray the level of detail and costuming that goes into this 45 song show? How can I describe the energy that I felt surging throughout the crowd throughout every single song for three hours straight? There really are no words that can truly sum up the absolute joy and privilege it was to attend a Taylor Swift show, let alone her hometown show.
Every single seat in Lincoln Financial Stadium was full, and the “Swifties” were all in the most amazing costumes I’ve ever seen- ranging from tiaras and sashes for “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince”, to groups of girls dawning fake beards and wigs to dress as her character from “The Man.” While I was outside waiting to pick up my ticket and press pass I ran into a couple of fans who didn’t even have tickets for the show tonight and just wanted to hear her from the parking lot. Now, if you’re a fan of Taylor, you know all about “The Great War” with Ticketmaster, and you know that many fans (including myself) did not survive. Instead of giving up though, along with many other fans, as ticket holders entered the stadium, those without remained outside to enjoy the show. If they couldn’t see her, then they could at least hear her with hundreds of other fans.
I unfortunately can’t review much of GAYLE’s or Phoebe’s sets since we had to leave the photo pit after the first two songs, but from what I did hear, it’s no wonder why Taylor chose them to open this leg of the Era’s Tour. The energy they both brought to their respective sets was on par with Taylor’s and you can tell that the fans went crazy.
As Taylor’s time to take the stage approached, a huge clock started counting down on the massive screen starting from 2 and a half minutes. Before you knew it, the door lifted and dancers with huge colorful fans started walking out to “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” and Taylor herself shot up from the bottom of the stage with the most amazing and seamless transition into “Cruel Summer”.
As “Cruel Summer” winded down, Taylor returned to the main stage from the B Stage, and began her first second change of many for the night and began singing (one of my personal favorites) “The Man”. As a woman working in an industry dominated by men for years, I have always resonated with “The Man’s” lyrics and I love how Taylor was able to put all of those frustrations so eloquently in not only a song, but an anthem for many women working in a heavily male dominated world.
After running back to my car to drop my gear off, I made it back to my seat just in time to hear “The Archer” and the tears started to flow. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was, and how grateful I was to not only be here to witness this amazing show, but be able to capture it as well.
If you don’t know, Taylor’s Eras Tour is split up into different “Eras” aka Taylor Swift albums and after opening up with Lover, Taylor proceeds to another costume change and an album most people will definitely be familiar with- Fearless. Back on stage now in a beautiful gold fringe dress, Taylor sings hit songs, “Fearless,” “You Belong With Me,” and “Love Story.” In my opinion, opening up the tour with these amazing, upbeat, and nostalgic songs was a genius move and really got the entire stadium engaged- even the boyfriends who didn’t want to be there or the parents who had to chaperone their kids- she proved very early on that a Taylor Swift concert truly is for everyone.
After Fearless, and another outfit change, Taylor transitions into hit songs from Evermore including fan favorite “Champagne Problems” where the crowd erupted into a huge standing ovation for her. Along with the many songs she performed, Taylor also got really personal with the crowd recounting her writing process, life and writing during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and tells the audience how there are a couple new members to her musical family, “Folklore, “Evermore,” and the newest addition- “Midnights”
The chill vibes of Evermore are drawing to a close as Taylor brings the energy back with the introduction of her Reputation era. As a huge snake slithers across the screens in the arena, fans start losing their heads as “Ready for It” begins- a song that many people predicted would actually open the tour. The choreography in this section, in my opinion, was one of the most technical parts of the entire show with dancers surrounding her, moving from one raising platform to another, and multiple marks to hit- which as always, Taylor does without missing a single step.
Although Taylor announced the re-released version of Speak Now (TV) a couple of days ago, Enchanted is still the only song we hear on the tour from everyone’s beloved purple album. Even though it’s the only song, Taylor definitely does it justice by coming out in a magnificent ball gown adorned in gems and glitter and dazzles the crowd with her vocals.
After the end of the song we see a huge Red box come out onto the stage as the dancers begin to lift the lid, and after each lift, we hear a different song from her Red era (another crowd pleaser) By this point, through my tears, I honestly begin to wonder how Taylor has the energy to do this night after night. Between the dancing, costume changes, her energy never once wavered and truly made sure that everyone was having a great time as the iconic first notes of “22” start playing and Taylor comes out in her white T-shirt, signature red lipstick, and black hat which she gives away to a fan every night- making the experience even more special. A great surprise for a lot of fans was when Taylor brought out opener Phoebe Bridgers to join her on stage and sing “Nothing New” together which caused my seat-mate to burst into tears (same girl same) and then finished out the Red Era with the 10 Minute version of All Too Well.
Next came the Folklore part of the night where she sang hits such as “Cardigan,” “August,” “The Last Great American Dynasty” which had the most beautiful old ballgowns and a dance to match the storyline in the song which 100% looked like it was straight out of Netflix’s Bridgerton which fits since she is the queen of bridges lets be real.
As Folklore came to a close, the dancers and Taylor were nearing the 1989 Era which got the stadium back up on their feet ready to dance along to “Style” and “Shake It Off.” Some fans even went to the back of the floor to freely dance and I couldn’t help but see a security guard or two even singing along and smiling at all the adoring fans having a great time.
Just before Taylor’s last “Era” “Midnights,” she makes it a tradition to surprise the audience with two different songs every single night that are not on her setlist and what other song is she going to sing in Philly other than “Gold Rush.” In the song there’s a lyric that goes “I see me padding across your wooden floors, With my Eagles T-shirt hanging from the door,” so obviously that was going to be one of the surprise songs for the night. Before she started the song she even mentioned how there’s a debate online whether the Eagles t-shirt referenced in the song is about the football team (Philly’s home team) or the band and she cleared it up for everyone saying it was definitely the football team which caused the stadium to explode in applause. The next surprise song was off of her album “Red” and it was “Come Back Be Here,” which then prompted immediate tears to fall from my eyes as I never thought I’d ever hear that song live. The lyrics in all of Taylor’s songs just tell such amazing stories but the emotions she goes through during “Come Back Be Here” truly resonate with anyone going through a long distance relation- whether you’re in NYC, London, or anywhere else in the world- Taylor has the superpower to put into words what hundreds of thousands of people feel everyday.
The night ends with Taylor’s “Midnights” Era as dancers start filling the stage with these huge purple clouds and Taylor rising on a platform to start singing “Lavender Haze.” The set was designed so it looked as if Taylor was singing on top of clouds for the people sitting up in the 200’s and 300’s section, and even from the floor it looked absolutely magical. Taylor ended the night with “Karma” as confetti and fireworks erupted from the sky- thousands of people cheered her name and didn’t want to leave.
Even after 45 songs and 3+ hours, it felt as though the entire show went by in the blink of an eye. No other performer does it like Taylor Swift, and I can’t think of another artist who can perform 45 songs back to back and still have the same energy like it’s night 1 of the tour. Swifties have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars to be there that night, and I have to say, it was definitely worth it. I would see Taylor again any day of the week, rain or shine, in a storm in my best dress, or at midnight every day. I truly feel like The Lucky One for being able to photograph and review this show, and I can’t begin to thank her team enough for the kindness they have shown me. I have been a Swiftie since I could remember and I will continue to be a Swiftie until I die.