Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers & Gayle – Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, PA – May 12, 2023
In the words of Miss Taylor Swift, “It’s been a long time coming.” On May 12th, Taylor performed on the stage of Philadelphia’s own Lincoln Financial Field, her 20th stop on the Eras Tour. The last time Swift graced this stage with her ethereal presence was back in 2018 on the Reputation Stadium Tour. With this being Swift’s hometown show, I could tell that it was a special one for her. In the words of Swift, “Whether or not you intended to, you’ve ended up at my hometown show. I grew up right down the road.” It was a pleasure to be in attendance at such a highly anticipated event. I feel so lucky to have been a part of that night, considering it was a war (or as Swift would say, a Great War) on Ticketmaster to secure tickets.
Now why is this tour called the Eras Tour, and not the Midnights Tour? In 2019, the masters of Swift’s first six albums were sold for a whopping $300 million. Fortunately, the “mastermind” announced in August 2019 that she would be re-recording those albums in the coming years. This means that she will once again own her original songs, but this time they’ll be “Taylor’s Version.” Fans were ecstatic to hear about the re-recordings, feeling all of the nostalgia while listening to their favorite high school albums for the first time again. Rather than solely highlighting the Midnights portion of her discography, Swift decided to bring tour attendees through all of her “eras.”
As soon as I arrived at the stadium, I felt an overwhelming energy buzzing around the stadium. Swifties in attendance were dressed head-to-toe in T-Swift gear, including moms, dads, and grandparents! Swift’s fans don’t play around when it comes to their Eras tour outfits; some even spent DAYS on their final looks! Fans were dressed for every era, from Taylor Swift to Midnights, and more.
The first act of the night was singer-songwriter Gayle. She became extremely popular in 2021 after the release of the hit single “abcdefu”, which was awesome to hear live! Gayle played tracks from her newest EP titled hi this is my setlist right now, which funny enough, is her setlist for the Eras tour! Her performance included hit singles “don’t call me pretty,” “luv starved,” and of course, “abcdefu.” Gayle was the perfect opener for the Eras Tour. Everyone was on their feet, which is rare for an opening act.
Up next was the incredible Phoebe Bridgers. Swift and Bridgers have been friends for some time now and even released a song together called “Nothing New,” which is featured on Red (Taylor’s Version). Bridgers kicked off her set with the popular hit “Motion Sickness,” followed by “DVD Menu,” “Garden Song,” and “Kyoto.” Joining Bridgers on stage playing guitar was The 1975’s lead singer, Matty Healy. As a fan of Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers, and The 1975, this was a surreal experience. Bridgers then went on to play several more tracks including “Scott Street,” “Graceland Too,” and finally “I Know The End.” After Phoebe’s performance, the energy went from excited to off the charts. It was finally time to start the countdown until Swift took the stage.
Promptly at 8 PM, the lights went down, and the Eras tour intro began playing over the speakers – a mashup of songs of Swift’s all throughout her albums. As the audio montage of her musical history played over the speakers, beautiful sunset-colored Cirque du Soleil-esque billowing fans held by dancers gracefully waltzed across the stage. The colors of the fans matched the sunset that painted the sky behind the stage, which was beautiful. The dancers then piled the fans on top of one another in the middle of the stage. The next thing I knew, Swift popped up from beneath the fans singing, “It’s been a long time coming,” the first line she sang from the chorus of “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” from her 2019 album Lover. Her choice of using a Lover song was very special, since her tour accompanying the album, Loverfest, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From Lover, Taylor also played “The Man,” fan-favorite “Cruel Summer,” “You Need To Calm Down,” “Lover” and “The Archer.”
Soon Swift disappeared into the stage. The display screens were then enveloped in shimmering sparkles, introducing us to the Fearless era. I was overwhelmed with nostalgia when the first notes of “Fearless,” the title track of her sophomore album Fearless. As the chorus of the song says, “I don’t know how it gets better than this,” I wholeheartedly agree. Up next was “You Belong With Me” followed by one of Swift’s first huge hits “Love Story.” Though I was sad to see the Fearless era come to an end, I could not wait for what was next.
Before I knew it, visuals of freshly fallen snow in the woods were shown on the display screens. Evergreen trees then arose from the stage, and Swift began singing “Tis the Damn Season” as she welcomed us to the evermore era. As Swift started singing the chorus of the song, the entire audience chimed in “it always leads to you in my hometown,” with an emphasis on “my hometown,” since Swift is from nearby Wyomissing, Pennsylvania! What makes her concerts so fun is not only the music itself but the captivating visuals and Broadway-quality performance that come along with it. Seeing Swift’s songs come to life on stage gives audiences a whole new insight into her brain, helping us further encode her profound lyrics.
Swift then went on to play “willow,” followed by “Marjorie” which she wrote for her late grandmother Marjorie Finlay. Hearing “Marjorie” live was a heartwarming experience, as Swift honored her grandmother by having a recording of Marjorie’s opera singing mixed in with the instrumental of the track. Swift sang “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were singing to me now” and Marjorie’s mesmerizing voice filled Lincoln Financial Field. Swift then played “champagne problems” on the piano after expressing her extreme gratitude to the audience. After a beautiful performance of “Tolerate It,” Swift once again disappeared from the stage, and we were transported to the Reputation era.
The last time fans saw Swift perform these songs was the last time she performed in Philly on her 2018 reputation Stadium Tour. Swift’s powerhouse vocals have only gotten stronger since then, making the reputation era one to remember. With striking visuals of snakes slithering across the stage, Swift kicked off this part of the set with “…Ready for It?” and that, I was! She then played fan-favorites “Delicate,” “Don’t Blame Me” (you know, the one with the insane high note), and finally “Look What You Made Me Do.” Before I could even catch my breath from the previous eras, it was time for the highly anticipated Speak Now era.
The reputation snake made its way to the end of the over 150-foot stage as the display screens turned a familiar shade of purple. The opening notes of “Enchanted” began playing and the audience lost their minds. Swift announced Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) on May 5th during her show in Nashville, only one week before Philly night one, which made the Speak Now era even more thrilling for the audience. It was a surreal feeling hearing Swift’s mature voice singing songs I listened to throughout my years in school. Though the Speak Now segment of the show was only one song long, that did not stop fans from having performances of their own in the audience. Swift didn’t go through the eras in chronological order throughout the show, but she did with the transition from Speak Now to Red.
As we entered the Red era, the vibes in the stadium were immaculate. Red is one of Swift’s albums that seemingly makes most Swifties’ top three album list, so the anticipation for this segment of the show was off the charts. Swift took the stage after a short montage of songs on the album was played, and the introduction to “22” blasted through the speakers. At the end of the song, Swift made her way to the end of the stage and handed off her hat to a lucky fan who got to take it home as the greatest souvenir of all time. Next, she played “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and even Red (Taylor’s Version) from the vault track “Nothing New.” Finally, it was time for the song fans had been waiting for, “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version).” Ever since Swift announced that the original version of the song was 10 minutes long in 2012, fans had been pleading for her to release it. Fortunately for them, she did on her first re-recorded album Red (Taylor’s Version).
We were then welcomed to the folklore era with a spoken word poem by Swift containing lyrics from folklore’s “seven” and 1989’s “Wildest Dreams.” The folklore era included “the 1,” “the last great American dynasty,” “august,” “illicit affairs,” “my tears ricochet” and “cardigan.” When introducing “betty,” Swift shared that while most of her songs are based on real people, some are characters that she made up including James, Inez, and of course, Betty. Swift explained to the the buzzing crowd, “Fun fact: I named the characters after real people in my life, who I love. Their names are James, Inez, and Betty.” What makes this even more special is that these are the names of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ children, whom Swift is very close with. Lively and the kids were even in attendance at the show!
After the performance straight out of a fairytale book that was the folklore era, fans were pumped to see the 1989 era begin with one of the album’s biggest hits “Style.” Swift then performed “Blank Space,” “Shake It Off” (even the stadium was shaking!), “Wildest Dreams,” and “Bad Blood.” The performance of “Bad Blood” came complete with a pyrotechnic display, perfectly accompanying the fiery vibe of the song. I could feel the flames from my seat! The choreography during this era was absolutely unmatched. Swift’s extremely talented band and dancers made the show that much better.
Up next was many fans’ favorite time of the night – surprise song time. On almost every tour Swift has done, she has played an acoustic song of two that are a complete surprise to the audience. One song is on the guitar and the other on the piano. While introducing the first song, Swift shared that there is a great online debate surrounding a specific lyric in the song. Fans caught on immediately that she would be playing evermore’s “gold rush.” The debate in question refers to the verse “What must it be like to grow up that beautiful? / With your hair falling into place like dominoes / I see me padding across your wooden floors / With my Eagles T-shirt hanging from the door.” Is she referring to the band or our hometown Philadelphia Eagles? Swift promptly answered sharing “I love the band Eagles. But guys come on, I’m from Philly. Of course, it’s the team.” The stadium erupted with cheers before she could finish her sentence. After playing the unofficial Swiftie Eagles fight song, Swift walked over to the piano to play the next surprise song. She explained that she does take polite requests for songs in this segment, and tonight’s was suggested by none other than Phoebe Bridgers. The song was revealed to be “Come Back, Be Here” (one of my personal favorites since 2012.) Swift had never performed this live before, so fans were extremely excited.
The era up next was the most recent member of Swift’s ever-growing catalog, Midnights. She kicked off the final portion of the show with the first track on the album “Lavender Haze” followed by “Anti-Hero,” “Midnight Rain,” “Vigilante Shit,” and “Mastermind.” The production value all throughout the Midnights era was incredible, complete with screen visual colors of clues, purples, and pinks to match the tone of the album. Next, Swift played “Bejeweled,” which recently became very popular on TikTok. As the song goes, Swift really made “the whole place shimmer.” The final song of the 3-hour and 15-minute show was an electric performance was “Karma.” It was a Taylor Swift show, so of course mass amounts of confetti were released into the crowd and a beautiful array of fireworks were shown in the sky over the Linc. After Swift, her band, and her dancers did their final bows, the lights went back on, and “You’re On Your Own, Kid” began playing over the speakers. A specific line in the song was special to hear in the stadium, that being, “So make the friendship bracelets / Take the moment and taste it / You’ve got no reason to be afraid.” As we entered the stadium, everyone was handed a Bluetooth-powered LED bracelet that created an interactive light show throughout the audience during and after the show. These bracelets were like Swifties’ friendship bracelets with Swift as well as among each other, which is such a special thing to now be a part of.
If you ever have the chance to see Swift in concert, do it. Not only will she give the performance of a lifetime, but you’ll make memories you will never forget.
Copyright ©2023 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 15, 2023.
Photos by Kayla Marra © 2023. All rights reserved.