Taylor Swift wows a sold out Quicken Loans Arena
Taylor Swift brought her "Speak Now World Tour" to Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night, and 15,000 screaming fans joined her for a night filled with surprises.
The 21-year-old superstar was backed by a eight-piece band, eight dancers trained to perform anything from hip-hop to ballet, and three trapeze artists that made fans hold their breath. Yet it was Taylor's show, and she had command of the stage from the moment the Victorian theatre-style courtains opened.
Opening with two songs from her new album, Speak Now, Taylor sent the crowd into a singing and screaming frenzy. Pyro wowed younger fans, while parents snapped photos. The 8:30 p.m. start time is a bit early for most headliners, but the parents had to appreciate getting their kids home before midnight. "Story of Us" had the band, dancers, and crowd fully engaged, while "Mean" turned into a ballad for anyone who's ever been picked on. A quick costume and set change, and Taylor showed her piano playing abilities with a moving randition of "Back to December".
Quick set and costume changes were a common thing Saturday night. There were nine costume changes in total, and sets included everything from a church setting during "Speak Now", three large church bells that rung during "Haunted", and a floating balcony in which Taylor soared over the crowd and around the arena during "Love Story". A seperate stage in the back of the arena provided a great view for fans who were further away from the main stage. Taylor navigated through the crowd, giving hugs and bracelets to fans of all ages along the way to and from the main stage.
It was on the second stage that Taylor showed her musical talents and ability to connect with fans through her music.
"Songwriting is something I need to do", Swift explained as she held a ukelele. "It's much more than what I love to do now."
She didn't chat too much with the crowd, but the interaction and energy from the fans was definitely there. Swift let her music do most of the talking for her, only adding anecdotal facts, song inspirations and the occasional compliment to the rowdy fans.
Short covers of Macy Gray's "I Try", as well as "My Wish" by Columbus natives Rascal Flatts led into her hit "You Belong With Me". Thanks to Taylor's Ukelele-playing, it was refreshingly light and uplifting. It was also the fourth instrument she skillfully played up to that point. Pyrotechnics, fog machines and Taylor's vocals were spot-on for the moodier portion of the show, which featured "Dear John", "Enchanted" and "Haunted".
"Long Live" included a shout-out to Cleveland native Paul Sidoti, who plays guitar in Taylor's band. "[Paul] is very proud of where he comes from", Taylor said, "and you should be very proud of him for being from here." Sidoti received a very warm welcome from the sold out arena, and even wore a Browns jersey for the encore. The video screen projected scenes from her first headlining tour, the highly-grossing Fearless Tour.
The floating balcony during "Love Story" sent Taylor up in the air and over the crowd on zip lines, eye-level with the club seating in the Q. Just one of many surprises in store at a Taylor Swift concert. While her theatrical setup pushes the envelope for touring country artist, she stayed true to her Nashville roots by never losing the message of her songs. Something tells me that 15,000 singing fans, or friends, as she calls them, would remind her if she happened to get lost in the moment. Even though audio troubles towards the end had some fans baffled, her voice was spot on. Full of energy, the 21-year-old singer showed off her musical talents and proved to any doubters that she is the real deal, and is here to stay for a long time.
Setlist: Sparks Fly, Mine, Story of Us, Our Song, Mean, Back To December, Better Than Revenge, Speak Now, Fearless, Last Kiss, You Belong With Me, Dear John, Enchanted, Haunted, Long Live. Encore: Fifteen, Love Story.
(click photo to enlarge)