Taylor Swift performing at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, photo by Josh Darr

Taking my teenage daughter to the Taylor Swift Eras Tour—check!

It took me a minute to think about how I wanted to approach this review, and the best way to encapsulate the grandeur of Friday night’s (July 7) performance. But then I realized the answer was sitting right in front of me—well, right next to me to be exact—my daughter Ande Jerome-Darr. The second aspect presented itself to me that evening literally on a silver platter when Swift welcomed the sold-out crowd at Arrowhead Stadium to the “official Speak Now release party!”

It was later that evening and then fully realized the next morning that the only way this review should be written is in “Dear John” format, pairing the perspectives of both myself along with that of my daughter’s experience of Taylor’s first night in Kansas City. I think it's contextually important to set to stage with some of my personal history of her music; it's nothing spectacular from your run-of-the-mill girl dad appreciation for a few catchy songs on repeat while carpooling my daughter and a few of her soccer teammates to practice. If you don’t realize it at some point when you listen to same few songs over and over again, your interest becomes piqued to the rest of the album those songs are included on.

It just so happened to be 1989, which was Swift’s full transition album from country music to pop and, in my opinion, is quite flawless on many levels. This album will always sit high up on my personal mantle of nostalgia and represents a timeframe in my daughter Ande’s life I didn’t think could be duplicated until Friday night in Kansas City. In the Summer of 2015, Taylor made her way through Chicago on tour supporting 1989 at Soldier Field and, honestly, at that time her performance was a memorable experience of its own. Not something to truly compare given the timeframe and her evolution since, not to mention a personal transition from father of a fan to whatever one would call a “Swiftie-Dad.”

Photo by Josh Darr

In the eight years since, Taylor Swift released five more albums as well as rerecorded her own version of three albums from her past catalog to regain ownership of her own creative material. The culmination of this growth and maturity as an artist as well as a creative exploration further into herself through her music with such humility, I gained an admiration for her as well as a personal connection with her music. This Eras tour, clearly masterminded by her during the pandemic and a giddy antsy-ness to tour again and reconnect with her Taylor Nation, is the perfect version of a live greatest hits album and an opportunity for her endless amount of fans of all kinds to share with which era of hers we most identify with.

It's a beautiful sentiment and that's without digging too deep into the rabbit hole fact that during the pandemic she was able to release not one but two beautifully her own versions of what one would consider “Sad Dad” records but I'm starting to digress here. I hope this translates well, but either way I am so grateful to have gotten to experience this sort of magic twice in my lifetime. One last thing, I did absolutely sit at my seat loving every moment of her performance and at the same time stood there with complete FOMO for the photographers who get to capture the evening in its entirety. It was a visual masterpiece.

Letter from a girl dad’s perspective:

Dear Taylor, hi, its me, Josh!! You’re not the problem, and in some ways, you’re the answer and any sense of denial I may have had towards this sentiment was completely squashed Friday night in Kansas City. Long were the nights for me as a father when I hoped my daughter, Ande, would go to sleep on her own and wondered what her own future would hold and who was the person she’d grow up to be. Eerily enough, when I wondered these things as a young dad and Ande was just four, you first released Speak Now, and I was yet to be familiar with your music. Of course I knew who you were; I had three younger sisters who enjoyed your music but it wasn’t time yet for me or Ande, for that matter.

Friday’s performance allowed both of us to get to experience and embrace a part of your past you hold dear in Speak Now but also was an opportunity for me as a dad to reminisce my memories of her growing up. I'm getting goosebumps again sitting here remembering you singing “Never Grow Up.” I can't help wiping away tears as I type this hanging on every word you sang and knowing I have to let my little girl grow up.

Dear Taylor, I see it now, why the Lover Era was the perfect introduction into the evening’s festivities. This was an album for me that sort of snuck under the radar and I realized after the fact how enjoyable it is. I think these lead-in songs encapsulate aspects of you as a singer, performer and a person. They’re sweet, they’re romantic, they’re strong, they’re vulnerable and so much more but those are also characteristics I want my daughter to continue to embody and embrace as she grows into the person she wants to be for herself. There's something to be said about songs our kids love as much as they do that they memorize the lyrics. I do believe that if we say something enough times we can believe those things about ourselves. From a dad’s perspective, Lover can be a very girlie sort of album but that's not a bad thing because in certain eras of our adolescence we as individuals learn how to embrace the girlie sides of ourselves—I’m including myself in that we. That's Lover for me and I hope I did it justice in the photos I captured from that Era.

Photo by Josh Darr

Dear Taylor, I see that there are almost two full Eras (Fearless and Evermore) I can't really speak too much about from Friday evening, which is OK. It's the nature of getting to take photos at the show and I can say there was something quite beautiful getting to hear those songs in the distance and embracing the KC landscape during my walk back to the car. The evening’s clouds overlooking Arrowhead Stadium were imposing with greatness and some sort of higher power for us were working in our favor as the forecasted evening’s thunderstorms made their way in a different direction for a relatively clear sky for your performance. That said, I did mentally prepare myself to stand in the rain to experience your performance knowing the strength and determination in you wouldn’t want to disappoint your fans nor allow rain to keep you from performing for everyone.

Sadly, one of the Eras I nearly missed all of was from Evermore. I don’t think she’d get upset with me for admitting this, but this is probably Ande’s least favorite albums, but I think it's in the way similar to my dad trying to get me to enjoy the complexity of a Led Zeppelin record and me not hearing it at the time. So yes, I am including in the same sentence and sentiment with a band like Led Zeppelin because it's admirable what you do with your music and how you constantly push your own envelope of comfortability to see what you’re capable of creating. Those two records (Folklore and Evermore) for me came at a time that was extremely dark and difficult personally and as I started to pick myself up they became part of a soundtrack of an Era of my own I have to constantly remind myself of. So when I finally did walk into the stadium and find my seat as you sang of “Champagne Problems” on a piano underneath a virtual tree it was perfection. 

The outside of Arrowhead Stadium, photo by Josh Darr

Dear Taylor, I see it now. Before I continue any further into this review, I need to thank you for the flawless transition into the Reputation era and the priceless expression on Ande’s face when she realized it. I was instantly sent back to that moment eight years ago at Soldier Field (pictured below), watching her left me with an insurmountable amount of joy and gratitude. This was another Era that took me by surprise and one not fully appreciated until after it had long passed. Obviously, by Ande’s response in the moment, it’s one of her favorites and in hindsight represents an impressive and quite successful transition as a country music star into your own defining genre of pop music super stardom.

You also continued to embrace becoming more of an adult. I have to take step back as a parent, not sure I know I would be able to handle seeing my daughter grow with a global spotlight on her and the unsurmountable amount of pressure you must have to go through all the time. I absolutely would want to help her facilitate her talents in a similar fashion as you have and the countless amount of identities that come with growing up as an individual you’ve embraced and handled the criticisms from the public eye with grace and maturity. I feel like Speak Now was my ticket to KC and is the glue that ties this review together and was the first thing we played as the clock struck midnight and we were driving from Chicago.

The energy was at an extreme high following “Look What You Made Me Do,” so to slow the pace and remind us why we were there that evening so magically and (pun intended) such an “Enchanted” manner was so graceful. Having Ande, who has gone through her own struggles and is about to begin her senior year in high school, these songs for me embrace that paternal fear that comes along with her growing up and wanting to begin to experience her own life independently as a young adult. The timing of this rerecorded album couldn’t be more perfect and I foresee evenings ahead with it on repeat and tearful moments full of childhood memories of her. 

Dear Taylor, I see now exactly how important Red has been for your career and so much of it defines who you were when you wrote it, as well as who you wanted to be. At this point, you’re going into your sixth costume change, which is a commendable feat on its own when you have a stadium full of fans waiting for the next song and less than limited amount of time to accomplish the backstage feat. I remember in 2011 you did an interview with 60 Minutes and the takeaway was how you still felt like an outsider regardless of all your success at that point of your career. I don’t think I could ever have the amount or even the slightest portion of your success in my lifetime, but I know for sure that evening I related to 22-year-old you and the challenges I've had throughout my life felling like an outsider.

Ande said it best at some point Friday evening, that she already missed you and you were still on stage talking to us and performing. That's my point. You make us, your listeners, feel like we’re on the same level as you and no matter where your life takes you, I don’t think you’d let any of us feel like an outsider from you. What do you think, was that enough of a stall for your wardrobe change in a similar fashion to the red box that was rolled onto stage? Honestly, I don’t think there really was a low point at any part of Friday night, but there were definitely Eras where I felt an elevation in intensity from the crowd and Red did just that! It really was a bridge album that connected two genres of music that didn’t really share too much stage time together before you arrived.

Your rerecording of this record for me brought a more mature perspective to what was a seemingly definable timeframe for you into adulthood. Closing out the Era with your 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” I'm so terrible at memorizing lyrics and I try so embarrassingly hard to sing along with you...and the faux snow falling on queue with your lyrics was the perfect heartbroken sentiment. And with that final sigh from the song, it was time for Folklore. 

Dear Taylor, I see now where the house I'd seen in many tour photos and posts online from fans come into play and I very much appreciated your narration and backstory of how the Folklore house came into existence. In complete honesty, I turned in my girl dad token for my Swiftie-Dad jacket the moment this record was released. I love the work you’ve done with Jack Antonoff over the years but then bring Aaron Dessner into the mix and almost all Variance readers familiar with my writing know what special place the band The National holds in my heart. I was in awe.

Photo by Josh Darr

So back to Friday, and easily the second least favorite record of yours for Ande (lol), but I soaked it all in, reminiscent of my first college experience down in Georgia and friends on a porch playing songs and just kicking back singing stories to each other. I love how you described getting out of your own self with the songs written on this album and instead imagining a new world of love and adventure for us to follow along with and embrace. These were the songs and the characters that really carried me personally through the pandemic and I was so grateful for them, so this portion of the show will hold a special place in my heart. Sigh. What an emotionally beautiful evening it's been up to this point with still two more Eras and surprise songs to go. I’ve got to hand to you, you’re like the live version of the Energizer Bunny. 

Dear Taylor, I see now we have made our way back to 1989. The Era that started it all in our household and coincidentally enough, the first album I bought on vinyl at Record Store Day in 2018, and it's definitely not my one and only album of yours. I remember as a kid seeing cartoons or some show where they show a decibel meter for the level of noise and excitement coming from a crowd and I couldn’t help thinking of that as you emerged from the darkness in glittery orange singing “Style.” This is definitely the part of the show when Ande elbows me, “Dad, my phone’s dying. Please get a video of this!” It’s so fun to think those were the songs she lost her mind for eight years ago and so much has changed since then both for her and everything you’ve done in your career.

I looked it up. Your setlist has grown from 19 songs back then, which at the time was probably considered a lot, to a whopping 44 songs on Friday night. All that said, the same song, same words can bring about the same emotional response from Ande. It was amazing! I didn’t think we could reach another level of intensity and I'm not sure if I’m repeating myself here but I do know I would take moments throughout the show and reflect how everyone around me was truly experiencing their own sense of nirvana and what was quite inspiring was that you were onstage experiencing something similarly and connected with all of them. I mean, seriously, all of them on a special level.

Somehow and somewhere in there after “Bad Blood” and the fiery house, you disappeared and reemerged in an elegant, canary yellow dress. I’ve lost track at this point when certain moments have happened, so forgive me, but the most vulnerable moment I experienced came sometime during this point of the show where you spoke not as the seemingly invincible Taylor Swift but as this strong, determined woman to do something you are passionate about. Im paraphrasing, but you mentioned how Friday’s release marked your personal achievement of regaining control of your own creative material and presenting it in a way that best represents you today as an artist. I know it's not an exact quote, but as a girl dad, it's what I heard and as a visual artist it's what I felt come over me when you spoke to us and shared.

It’s an achievement any father would be beyond proud of their daughter accomplishing. This portion of the letter may run long, as our surprise songs tied back into our evening’s celebration of Speak Now. Why not? If you’re going to make the evening special to go ahead and up the ante with the world premiere music video you directed for “I Can See You.” What a humbling experience to see you casually take a seat onstage and watch with all of us. The photo captured of this is priceless, and don’t be surprised if I paint it. 

If that wasn’t exciting enough for all of these fans, you doubled down and introduced the main cast from the video—Joey King, Presley Cash and Taylor Lautner. The latter blowing everyone’s mind with his acrobatic skills and even though each of them have their own followings, it was wild to watch them experience the overwhelming love of Taylor Nation. As everyone resettled back to our regularly scheduled programming, you debuted two songs live from Speak Now, just you and us. It was tender, it was heartfelt and it was vulnerably beautiful (piano mistakes and all). I'd be lying if I said I didn’t cry, maybe some tears of sadness but also of gratitude to be able to spend the time I do with Ande and get the opportunity to see her grow into an adult and relate your words, your experience and your spunk to her and what she wants for herself. 

Dear Taylor, I see now, we are here at the final Era for the evening and there aren’t words (including everyone that has proceeded these) to fully describe Friday evening’s experience that would truly do it justice. I am excited to read what Ande is writing for you and to hear how she experienced the evening. I am proud to say I'm a Swiftie-Dad through and through and am at a point in my life where I find your lyrics so relatable to various aspects of my life and am humbled with gratitude that I can hear and find so much promise in your words. That was my gracious lead in to admit I pre-ordered Midnights moments after it was announced even before you revealed all the special additions that came along with this record.

I obviously knew the Era would bring a change from the two previously released albums and was quite delightful how it felt like this musical journal of where you are today. The songs and sounds are a culmination of the various genre pools you’ve dipped your toes into and at times are very adult but with a wink of that 14-year-old girl who began her career all those years ago. Those same sentiments are who you were on that stage to close out your three-and-a-half hour performance. I remember Ande and I commenting how genuine each of your waves were as well as your greeting everyone you did when you sang, “Hi..It’s me..I'm the problem.” Almost like one of the “lost boys” in Neverland never letting go of that kid in you wanting to say hi to everyone.

Yet during “Bejeweled," she also noted how adult you’ve become, and similarly to a dad who sees his friends' kids grow older and engage in adulthood, I can wholeheartedly concur. I don’t know when will be the next time I’ll get this opportunity to experience another performance by you; my hope is that my “Karma” allows it to be sooner rather than later, and I know for a fact Ande hopes for the same. But until then, keep wearing your dresses and writing your songs. Thank you.

Left: Ande at 1989 Tour, Soldier Field in Chicago, on July 18, 2015; Right: Ande at Eras Tour, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, on July 7, 2023

Letter from Ande's perspective:

Dear Taylor, let me begin by assuring you that the performance you put on was incredible. Whether it was the ability to keep me thoroughly entertained for multiple hours, or the swarm of glitter engulfing the stadium, there was never a dull moment. My favorite part, however, was the humanity behind every little detail. In between screams of thousands, I couldn’t help but think, it must be fascinating to be treated as if you aren’t human. On the contrary, I think your writing reflects more humanity than most people can even communicate. When it comes down to it, the Eras Tour isn’t just a recap of all your work, but a diary entry for everything you’ve felt for the past seventeen years.

Entering with Lover was a beautiful start, both visually and audibly. I think you did a great job organizing the costume changes. Coming out adorned in rhinestones and pastel colors, then making a switch to a bedazzled jacket really fit the transition between songs. I believe that your deeper intention going throughout each album was to retell stories from your past. During Lover, you began with the words, “Said ‘I’m fine’ but it wasn’t true, I don’t want to keep secrets just to keep you,” to “I’m so sick of running as fast as I can,” then ending with, “Cause they see right through me.” On a baseline, these flow from one to the other beautifully, but you also thoroughly portrayed the progression of insecurity and the performance of confidence. This ties in to the central theme of “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince,” where the attraction you’re feeling is similar to that of a drama-ridden teenager, putting on her best show, and unaware of the true complicated nature behind love. "Archer" ended your story of "Lover" with, “Who could stay...I'm ready for combat,” which then opened to Fearless.

Photo by Josh Darr

With Fearless came two things; the spirit of untainted teenage love, and outfit change reminiscent of the warm beige on the album cover. The transition you made from a matured perspective on romance straight back to the starstruck innocence of young love almost made a reenactment of the passion you mentioned in your opening song for "Lover." Going to such a romantic song from "Archer" feels like a callout to the line, “I never grew up…help me hold onto you.” While it seems like you’re making a callout to a specific person, it also could relate to a grasp towards the feelings of innocent bliss around connection and love.

Bringing out the guitar brought a nostalgic feeling, which is impressive given that the majority of us don’t know you personally. Watching you parade around the stage must’ve satisfied that inner child that you were singing about at that moment. "Love Story" ended with the words, "'Cause we were both young when I first saw you" opening up the stage for Evermore.

Evermore came with a new onstage prop, as pine trees and a slight fog took their places. You began with, "'tis the damn season," which again, I thought was a flawless transition, given the lyric, “It always leads to you in my hometown." You did an impeccable job of connecting each ‘era’ to each other; it was reminiscent of multiple book chapters. Whereas Lover felt like a call for the innocence from Fearless, Evermore felt like you were appreciating the bittersweet nature of your home, childhood, and good memories that slip away with time. I noticed that you make multiple callouts to a train, in both "Archer" and "willow." You mentioned getting on “my train and riding off alone” in "Archer," whereas in "willow" you said, as if speaking to somebody, “you know my train can take you home." The connection between these really speaks of a desire for connection and stability to me. A train goes in one direction, it's a set trajectory. In some words, this train is the fate and path of a relationship. 

In Fearless, things were exciting, and nerve wracking, whereas in Evermore, things have started to slow down and mature. You’re telling us about that comfortability you desire, and the muted colors reminiscent of cooler weather brought that all together. "Marjorie" was a beautifully emotional tribute. Your grief takes many forms and layers throughout Evermore, whether for relationships, or childhood figures of love. In "Champagne Problems," there is another mention of the train, but there’s a darker feeling around the emotions there. It seems that you’re recounting a breakup of your own accord, but diminishing your feelings in the situation. The phrase "Champagne Problems" derives from the idea that the problem is inferior given the privilege of the situation at hand in the first place. This could be a call to your fame or the fact that turning down someone doesn’t feel like a situation in which you’re allowed to have emotions, but it gives a look towards how you processed things and minimized yourself.

Photo by Josh Darr

Evermore concluded with "Tolerate It," a song that shared your feelings during a relationship in which you put so much love towards, but got little return. The idea of tolerance was brought up with the picture of somebody being so indifferent to your effort that it didn’t even seem fully welcome, just something that was begrudgingly dealt with. You use the words, “like I’m just a kid,” which makes sense, as children are both sensitive and thrive on words of affirmation, similar to what you needed in this relationship, despite getting left dry.

There was a complete change in energy going from Evermore to Reputation. Lights took a strobe effect, and you changed into a skintight bodysuit with one leg covered and one leg bare. The intensity of the music completely fits the passionate approach with Reputation. Starting with "...Ready For It?," this song works perfectly for both the introduction of this era, as well as what I assume it’s intended as, which is the beginning of a fiery, new relationship. Despite being both catchy and flashy, this era has important significance. This is where you let go of the labels assigned to you, and took a completely different turn with both your lyrics and performance. With an unintentional call to the name, you did have a reputation of singing about breakups, and with a beautifully directed "screw you" to the media and the "good girl" image, this was born.

"Delicate" comes with a little bit of a doubting nature, because nobody ever loses touch with who they are and how they feel. There’s a hesitance to be completely vulnerable, which makes sense with how you’ve portrayed different relationships in the past, and given that you’re not somebody who is "allowed" to be private, anxiety must always keep you on your toes. "Don’t Blame Me," however, is brought back to that original passion that opened this era. The term “my drug is my baby” explains the attachment and addiction that you have to feeling genuine love and attraction that isn’t one-sided. The comparison to love being a "drug" further explains the call to past positive experiences of romance, assuming that the high comes from this connection, which would be especially hard with you being in the public eye.

"Don’t Blame Me" was shortened, with a transition to "Look What You Made Me Do.” This was a perfect ending to the Reputation era. You tell a story of revenge, betrayal, and climbing your way though. Most importantly, this introduction to a "new Taylor" is a powerful call to you becoming your own person without being controlled by any past forces. There’s also a call to karma, which I believe was intentional. You’ve always made a point to reference justice as something that will be served if deserved.

Despite seeming like total opposites, Speak Now felt like the perfect calm after the powerful "storm" that Reputation was. In the beginning verse of "Enchanted," you said, “walls of insecurity…vanished when I saw your face," and followed up with “please don’t be in love with someone else” towards the end. This follows up the passion from Reputation perfectly with the idea of pining after that spontaneous connection that you were quite literally "Enchanted" by. There’s a sense of yearning that comes from you throughout your history, your music always tells a story of connection, and a girl growing up and learning her place and how she defines her life. Your dress was breathtaking, and truly gave off that princess vibe that Speak Now gives off. There was a special love towards this performance with "Speak Now," given that it was the day that your version of it came out. You debuted "Long Live" for us, which, with the talk of kingdoms and royalty, there was even more magic spread throughout the stadium.

Photo by Josh Darr

Though the surprise songs came further in the show, I’m going to reference them now, given that they were from Speak Now. You watched the debut of the music video for "I Can See You," which you both directed and performed in. I like how the "secret love" was portrayed in a literal sense, with a Mission Impossible type heist taking the action of the music video. You brought out the co-stars as special guests, which caused everyone in that stadium to erupt with surprise and joy, because you made it feel like it was everyone’s special moment. Our first surprise song was "Never Grow Up," which was performed on the piano and was a beautiful tribute to childhood, something that almost everybody takes for granted. Though this wasn’t a specific message to yourself, it seemed that you recounted parts of yourself as you wrote it, remembering the moments and how fast time can fly.

The second surprise song you performed was "When Emma Falls in Love," which was written about your friend. This, to me, showed how much attention to detail you have when it comes to what you’re passionate about and what you love. With words like, “She won’t lose herself the way I did," and, “Sometimes I wish I were her," there’s this feeling of admiration and subtle sadness that you put out while singing this, about how Emma is so lovable and you feel that if you were more like her, and made similar choices, that maybe it would be the same. The respect and love that you feel for her is apparent, and it was a touching way to end the special songs.

Red followed Speak Now, which was especially nostalgic for me, being born in 2006, and growing up with Red having some of my favorite songs. Red obviously opened with "Red," with you dressed in the iconic tee from the "22" music video. Going from "Red," a song with the color being a parallel to that same feeling of passion and desire, to "22," which brings out the playfulness and friendship that comes with being a young adult both made a connection to people that bring out the creative authority in you to write about the positive emotions you’re feeling when with them. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," the anthem of the early 2010’s followed, accompanied by you and your backup dancing together on stage, almost like a slumber party between friends. Ironically, this is exactly what this song brings up for me; a lighthearted talk and gossip between your girls.

The song ending with your hat being given to a kid in the front, the most touching and iconic way to finish both that song and costume. Red finished with you in a more mature red bodysuit, fitting the theme of the following song, "I Knew You Were Trouble." An homage to a toxic relationship, and being the victim of a player. Taking a slightly lighthearted view on falling for the "bad boy," and ignoring the red flags, while also simultaneously singing a word of warning. "All Too Well" ended Red with 10 minutes of storytelling. This song is a true description of heartbreak, and goes through a particularly meaningful relationship that slipped away too soon. All the little details recounted by you stood out to me, because it felt as if you were singing a diary entry to us all. You have this ability to save each of your thoughts and fully rework them into something beautiful, which is impressive, especially when it comes to the things that ache the most. Effort isn’t something that goes forgotten for you; it’s shown throughout everything that somebody who is genuine will take your heart, whereas someone who is fake will get dropped quicker than they can even realize.

Photo by Josh Darr

Folklore might’ve been my absolute favorite part of your performance, for a few specific reasons. The stage transformed itself into the Folklore Cabin, as you have a little backstory to the creative liberties that brought you to this fictional place throughout quarantine. You are truly a writer, and not just in the way that you recount your own feelings, but with the stories you create without an experience to base it on. Being a teenage girl who has written creatively for years, it was incredible to see you bring a story you created to life, and not only that, but to get thousands of people screaming along for that fiction. We follow along throughout the performance, which is centered around a teenage love story full of heartbreak, apologies, grand gestures, and above all else, connection. Whether this has ties to real experiences or not, there was something so enticing that came from watching you sing this, including on the roof of the cabin. It was an effortless portrayal of the story, because you gave this story life and emotion.

With your second to last album in performance order, 1989 had its turn. One of my first concerts was when I was nine years old, and I saw 1989 in Chicago, my hometown. Here I am, 17, writing a review on the same music, but from a much bigger tour. The burst of energy from the gentle beauty of Folklore kept us on our toes. "Style" was the debut, which as I thought about it, reminded me quite a bit of "Betty" from Folklore, especially with the lyrics, “that you’ve been out and about with some other girl…what you heard is true, but I can’t stop thinking about you." This song didn’t reflect much negativity about who it was written about, but rather a more casual outlook on what seemed to be a situational relationship.

"Blank Space" followed, which to me, always told the story of an intriguing relationship that, to quote, “goes down in flames…” There was an homage to the music video with the golf club smashing of a projected car, taking to the heights of both betrayal and how toxic things can be when someone gets hurt. "Shake It Off" was next, a transition which I found funny, coming from the intensity of "Blank Space." It almost felt like a manifestation that you wrote to yourself after a particularly hard situation such as in "Blank Space." During "Shake it Off," you wore a brightly colored crop top and miniskirt, adorned with sequins and tassels so that you could, quite literally, “shake, shake, shake!” "Wildest Dreams" and "Bad Blood" were both shortened, but both still took the voices from everyone in the audience singing along. "Wildest Dreams" is about a beautifully intense relationship that you seem to know wouldn’t last, but would make an impact, finalizing this with the idea that it would stick around in the dreams of both of you. "Bad Blood" describes the betrayal by a friend perfectly, which has a different sting than that of a romantic relationship. Although shortened, you make it known that fake apologies will not phase you and that betrayal is not something that you will forgive nor forget.

Midnights—the last era of the tour and your most recent album. "Lavender Haze" is the starting song, which reflects an idea similar to rose-colored glasses, or a honeymoon phase. It describes being in a complete blanket of love, with no regard for anything else at the moment. One lyric I find especially powerful is, “The only kind of girl they see is a one night or a wife," which seems targeted at the media and the magnified view of who exactly you're with at any given time and the exact status of that relationship. "Anti-Hero," the next song up, is possibly my favorite out of the album. To me, it’s the total weight of self-reflection and regret all tumbled into one self-deprecating mess of beauty. This song in particular is so honest and it uses your writing skills in such a unique way; it's critical of your past, but also of yourself throughout the writing process, featuring statements like, “Did you hear my covert narcissism disguised as altruism,” based on a freshly written lyric. The ability to assess yourself and your inner intentions at such a quick pace, and to also make them pleasant to the ear is remarkably mature.

Photo by Josh Darr

Ironically, I believe that Midnights is a true reflection of the maturity you’ve achieved and how well you’ve grown into yourself over so long. "Midnight Rain" was performed next, and to me, it’s a song that projects regret. This album, in general, is you thinking about your life, your past, your mistakes, and your future. There’s a reference to you wanting “that pain" and "chasing that fame," as a comparison to the person you’re singing about wanting happiness, and you leaving because of that. On the contrary, I think that the way you’re putting this is looking back on your past self, who likely saw these situations flipped. The idea of fame and power was blinding and would give you everything you wanted, so what seems like genuine peace to you now must’ve come across as boring and limiting whenever this choice was made. It’s interesting to get a look at how you feel about where you’ve ended up, because although how touching it must be, people don’t always treat you like a human. When you’re on that stage, in public, or at home, you’re a museum artifact, stared at, cheered at, referenced to, and hated by people who haven’t even spoken to you or met you.

"Vigilante Shit" followed, leading with a chair-themed choreography and lyrics that stayed set on the theme of revenge and justice. To follow up on the choreography, there is nothing more powerful than a woman who isn’t afraid to show her body or introduce sensual nature to something. Women in the public eye have been kept in guidelines and watched like a hawk by the media for too long, and watching you break barriers and perform in so many different genres truly speaks to your self-made independence. "Bejeweled" speaks to a narrative of self-confidence and continued independence. Different from "Tolerate It," this song speaks of a different outcome. Instead of swallowing it down your feelings, in "Bejeweled," you speak these words with power, “Familiarity breeds contempt, don’t put me in the basement when I want the penthouse of your heart.” You are no longer afraid to speak up for what you deserve, and that is admirable. Your growth is apparent.

"Mastermind" was the second to last song of the night. To make a song comparison, this gave similar energy to "I Love Rock and Roll," with the lyrics, “And I could tell it wouldn’t be long, till he was with me, yeah, me,” having similar context to, “And now you’re mine, it was all by design." The term "Mastermind" relates to the plan and follow-through of making turning a crush into a relationship, and taking what you want. The final song of the night was "Karma," which by design, holds a special place in your heart. This final song is a final salute to your mature present self, and a look back to those who push others down versus you being someone who’s made your way by being genuine. "What goes around comes around," and you make it known. The final lyrics, “Karma’s a relaxing thought," truly solidifies the confidence you have in your genuine nature, and how you’re finally at a place where you’re at trust with yourself. The final song was accompanied with an extended ending, and fireworks taking over the sky, the sound drowned out by screams and cheers of support.

Your final moments on stage were spent hugging your dancers and performers, and giving a smile to everyone looking up at you.

The Eras Tour was more than just a stereotypical performance. This has been your life. You opened up the story of Taylor Swift and gave us a look into everything; your family, relationships, betrayals, heartbreaks, creative monuments, and your personal growth. Whether anybody else notices it, you didn’t just show us a trajectory of your musical career, but you went through every major life event and feeling, and poured it out into a four-hour presentation of literary brilliance. You will continue to make an impact, both by sharing your gift, but also by leaving behind the connections to your growth for generations to continue to discover.

Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince
Cruel Summer
The Man
You Need to Calm Down
The Archer
You Belong With Me
Love Story
’tis the damn season
champagne problems
tolerate it
…Ready for It?
Dont Blame Me
Look What You Made Me Do
Long Live +
Red - intro
We Are Never Getting Back Together
I Knew You Were Trouble
All Too Well
the 1
the last great american dynasty
illicit affairs
my tears ricochet
Blank Space
Shake It Off
Wildest Dreams
Bad Blood
I Can See You *
(Introduction of cast of I Can See You)
Never Grow Up (acoustic) +
When Emma Falls in Love (piano) +
Lavender Haze
Midnight Rain
Vigilante Shit

+ -live debut
* - music video premiere