Taylor Swift Concert Review

As a dedicated Swiftie, when my mom told me she wouldn’t buy me tickets to see Taylor Swift on the Red Tour, I did what any teenage girl would do: clean out her closet to find clothes to sell for concert money. Luckily, I was able to purchase two tickets to Taylor’s September 20th show in Nashville, which then prompted my desire to get passes into Club Red.

Club Red is the backstage area that super-excited and overzealous fans can get invited to after the show to meet and greet with Taylor and possibly her band, family, and Ed Sheeran. You know Ed, even if you don’t think you do. His song “The A Team” played on the radio last year—“Lego House” is making the rounds now—and he performed it at the Grammys this past year as a duet with Sir Elton John. He’s got a mob of ginger hair, a sleeve of tattoos featuring colorful puzzle pieces, and dons a t-shirt and jeans for every performance.

Anyways, in order to get into Club Red, one has to get the attention of personnel who make their way through the venue looking to invite some lucky fans backstage. I’ve heard screaming so hard you lose your voice, never sitting down, elaborate costumes, and/or posters are good strategies for getting in. I attempted the first method, and I am sad to report I didn’t make it, but I still had an awesome concert experience.

I invited my best friend Jules, a current senior at a local Nashville high school who is addicted to going to concerts. As we got ready in my dorm room, she discussed her plan to attend a concert once a month for a year. All I could focus on was trying to figure out how to get the black outline of the 13 painted on my right hand to stay. Tip (after failures by me): when creating art on oneself, use sharpie or nail polish, and just know that black eyeliner will wash off and you will freak out when it happens.

Jules started writing lyrics from her favorite Taylor and Ed songs on her left arm, and she later helped me out by writing my favorite line from Taylor’s song “Holy Ground” down my entire left arm in bold, red sharpie. During the Speak Now tour, Taylor wrote the lyrics of some of her favorite songs on her left arm in big black sharpie, and for both the Fearless and Speak Now tours, her mom drew a 13 on her right hand. We were officially going all out.

The night took a strange tumble when our cab service decided it was just too busy to send a cab (thanks 1800-TAXICAB Nashville) or tell us about this update. We started to panic, till we spotted a totally free, open, available, and super-friendly Commodore Cab. Two girls ran up behind us and asked if we were going to the Taylor Swift concert—I think my Speak Now shirt, floral headband, and red nails gave me away—saying they couldn’t get a cab either. Alyssa, a junior living in Towers 3 wearing a Taylor-esque little black dress, and her younger sister in an equally cute sundress were so happy about getting a cab with us that they offered to pay for it! I love the South.

The show started right around seven with a brief opening set by a country artist named Casey James. Then, Ed Sheeran came out for forty minutes, opening with “Give Me Love,” my favorite song of his. It was just him and his guitar, and he told the crowd, “If you know a song, please scream the lyrics with me. If you don’t know a song, just make up the lyrics.” And so we did. Jules knew every word, from the old Irish folk song he covered to the eleven-minute version of his UK hit, “You Need Me, I Don’t Need you.”

In between songs, Ed showed off his new accessory—a bandage on his right hand. Apparently, he got a little too drunk the night before, or rather that morning, and tried to play the drums with two beer bottles. He proceeded to smash up his hand and get stitches. How he did his set is beyond me.

The second he was over, Jules and I ran out to the merchandise stand, and there was no line. I repeat: no line. She got a t-shirt that looked like a baseball jersey, and I purchased the program ($40 and $20 respectively). Another fan asked the merch guy who the special guest was going to be that night. He looked at her, shrugged her shoulders, and said, “I don’t know, but life’s a highway, man!”

Taylor soon came out, wearing a white button-down and black short shorts. She opened with “State of Grace,” during which she handed off her black hat to a lucky audience member. She then twirled around on stage to “Holy Ground” and a huge chorus line of drummers dropped down from the ceiling. Taylor even ran over and joined them for an epic drum-banging session. She finished out this first set with a little spiel about why she chose red for her album and tour title. She said that she realized she compared a lot of her feelings to colors, and that when it came to passionate, crazy love, she saw it all in red. This was followed by a performance of “Red,” of course.

A longer break came after this—well, in Red Tour standards, that’s a few minutes—and a short introductory film played for the next set. Taylor came out wearing a red halter-top paired with sparkly red shorts underneath and a flowing red skirt that trailed around her as she whimsically slid and danced around the stage, chased by photographers and reporters. It reminded me of the wedding set for when she performed “Speak Now” on her last tour. Taylor Swift is all about telling a story.

Taylor then did the quickest costume change I’ve ever seen and was back out in a black and white polka dot skirt to introduce “Mean.” She was supposed to perform “Stay Stay Stay” after this, according to the program, but she didn’t. Instead, she changed and performed “22,” having her dancers carry her to the B-Stage for her duet with Ed. Ed came out wearing a kitten knit cap, over which Taylor and the audience could not stop gushing. It was so adorable!

How does one get from the B-Stage in the back of the arena all the way back to the main stage? Why, by a flying platform, of course! All while singing “Sparks Fly,” Taylor Swift-style. To top it off, the girl then brought out Rascal Flatts to sing “What Hurts the Most” with her. Apparently, they invited her out on tour with them when she was unknown, and she wanted to pay homage to them. The merch guy had been right all along!

Cue another costume change for “I Knew You Were Trouble,” which featured a ball-gown that Taylor’s dancers ripped off to reveal a seductive, black bodysuit underneath. It’s in this more mature, sexy piece that she sat down at a red, grand piano and describes the heartbreak of trying to forget someone that you once loved when honestly you remember it “All Too Well.”

This was the song I was terrified to listen to. I hadn’t been able to listen to the entire thing all the way through since June after experiencing my first heartbreak. The song brought everything back for me, like it did for Taylor, and after the first line, I broke down crying. It was a beautiful sort of crying, though, and Jules put her arm around me as I let myself go back to this past spring when I fell in love for the first time. It was cathartic and wonderful, and even Taylor paused at one point, looking like she was trying not to cry. You know your connection with an artist and a show is great when you are both trying to not cry over that one song that just brings you back.

However, she cheered herself and everyone else up with a lovely performance of “Love Story” that restored my faith in love and fairytales, and rounded out the show with a tight-rope walk for “Treacherous” and a circus show finale for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Confetti rained down as Taylor ran around in her red, sequined ringleader’s jacket and I took in what a great show it was. It wasn’t the whimsical, magical concert full of fairytales and wonder that “Speak Now” had been, but it was more of a theatrical Broadway show. Jules was wonderstruck to say the least, by the red carpet of “The Lucky One” and the simplicity of Ed’s set. We walked out into the rain to catch our ride, hugging and screaming, because this was a night to be remembered, even if we didn’t get Club Red.