Taylor Swift Slithers Into Rose Bowl Ready To Put Her Past Behind Her & Dazzle Her Fans

The snake strikes again. Taylor Swift delivered an intimate performance after months of staying out of the public eye, opening up and embracing her new image by proudly declaring herself to her adoring fans. 

Her Reputation Stadium Tour at the Rose Bowl on Friday was a mix of looking forward and back. Back, on her 12 year singing career that earned her 31 Grammy nominations and 10 wins since she began at age 16—a number she brought up multiple times at her show. Forward, on moving past the bad press she's received this year and her entire life—criticism over her love life and the "mind twist" she got from Kanye West in 2017. 

She told fans that her entire career had been a cycle of writing an album, releasing an album and going on tour. She finally broke that pattern with Reputation, her sixth album, when she took a break from social media to focus on who she would be if she didn't have a "spotlight" on her life. 

The result is indeed Reputation, which acknowledges how she shed her skin from the bad rumors she's faced and emerged as a more private and personal star, with her "Gorgeous" boyfriend Joe Alwyn and all. 

Following openers Charli XCX and Camila Cabello that shouted out the girl power theme of the lineup, Swift began her set with her new big hits, of course starting with "...Are You Ready For it?" dancing with her crew in a black sequin onsie. She kept her facial expressions fierce and her moves crisp, reveling in her bad girl persona with "I Did Something Bad,"  "Look What You Made Me Do" and "End Game," all of which focused on her new reputation that fans got to know when she wiped her social media last year, and filled it with snake images. This was the new Taylor. 

But the old Taylor wasn't dead either. She indulged her longtime fans with "Love Story" with pink lights throughout the stadium (guests were given synchronized light-up wristbands upon arrival). To further create intimacy in the large venue, she had two mini stages set up toward the back of the Rose Bowl, for her first time at the venue. Before "Delicate," she spoke about how brave it is to reveal yourself to someone else, whether singing along to her songs or admitting your feelings to a crush. During the song itself, she ascended in a lit-up ball (think Glinda the good witch) to the mini stage. Wearing a shimmery, rainbow fridge dress, she sang "Shake it Off" with Cabello and Charli XCX.

Clad again in black, she sang "Dancing with Our Hands Tied" acoustically followed by "Red" at the mic (when deciding what to sing at the Rose Bowl, "I thought, well roses are red!").  She walked through the crowd to another mini stage on the other side of the stadium, singing "Blank Space" and "Dress," before being lifted again back to the main stage in a snake skeleton while belting "Bad Blood." Her efforts to get closer to fans at the back validated her sentiments about honoring her Swifties. 

Perhaps the most poignant and emotional moment was during the slow crooning of her "Long Live/New Year's Day" mashup on the piano, for which she teared up and recalled how her fans have always supported her through her rather snakey reputation and tumultuous years growing up. 

Though of course a highlight was the surprise Shawn Mendes performance of "There's Nothing Holding Me Back"—whose lyrics, yes, include the word "reputation"—the most impressive part of the concert was how seamlessly she played to her knee-high-boots-wearing persona while still remaining the charming girl she's been all along, giving a taste of each nostalgic album.