Holding a shaking camera above my head while the lights in the Wachovia Center dimmed, I could feel the emotions from every spectator in the arena. From the glow sticks and cell phone lights to the elaborately decorated posters, the stadium was completely sold out. The five-year-old girl aside of me reached for her mother’s hand and stared at the stage in utter amazement. Her eyes shone with anticipation as she half stood on the chair next to me in order to see overtop the sea of heads. It was her very first concert and I knew she was not going to be disappointed.
With one final roar, the stage curtains lifted and the first measure of “You Belong with Me” erupted from the numerous speakers. Complete in a full marching band uniform, out popped the woman of the evening – Taylor Swift. As part of her 39 date Fearless Tour, Swift spent March 18 and 19 wowing the Philadelphia crowd.
According to her guitarist’s Twitter, “After 48 hours in Philly, I’m gonna conclude by stating that this town is amazing! Both shows, both nights = BEST crowds. I’m a believer!”
After an enthusiastic applause (more like frantic screaming and incessant chanting), Swift said, “I hope you know just how happy it makes me to be back home! Thank you for being here tonight!” The Reading, Pa native was no stranger to the Wachovia Center stage; she performed the National Anthem at a 76ers game when she was 11-years-old. She said it was good to be back and made several comments about her hometown in Wyomissing.
I will admit I was a bit skeptical about this performance, simply because she is no longer the Swift I grew up listening to. Her music is more mainstream and she now flips her hair around every chance she gets. So, of course I was anxious to see how much she has changed, and I quickly realized these changes only improved her standing in the entertainment industry.
The two and a half hour show was like a story of Swift’s life: She introduced each song with a brief synopsis of the inspiration for it and offered advice to future boyfriends and young girls with big dreams. Swift is living proof of what dedication and perseverance will amount to. Looking around me at the tear streaked faces of young girls, older girls, mothers, and even grandmothers, I could not imagine a finer role model for women. Swift has not only dominated the charts and every major award show, but she has captivated hearts all over the world.
You may be wondering what makes her so great? and I understand there are some who doubt the talent in her live performances and some who think she cannot write a decent song.
Well, if she cannot write a decent song, why has she sold out venues across the world in seconds, won four Grammys, reached six-times platinum in album sales for “Fearless” (ten-times platinum for both albums combined), and most recently celebrated the “Most Awarded Album in Country Music History” for “Fearless?”
She knows how to grab the attention of her audience and connect with them through personal experiences and emotionally detailed lyrics. Her music resonates with everyone. She is completely relatable and that is why she has reached such tremendous success. She writes her songs from experience and is wise beyond her years. Watching her perform makes her age of twenty easily forgotten. To those Kanye supporters, she also hit every note and sang beautifully.
Her CMA award for “Entertainer of the Year” was clearly justified in her performance. Swift knows how to wow the crowd and how to make them scream like they have never screamed before. She knows how to act in order to receive the attention and chants of her audience. From randomly appearing in the middle of the nosebleed section to perform “Hey Stephen” and playing a set for those in the far end of the arena, Swift knew exactly how to work her audience. She walked through the middle aisle on the floor while hugging almost each person, shaking hands, signing posters and finished with an “I love you, Philly!”
Pausing briefly for a few costume and set changes, the show was fast paced and visually appealing. The set was just outstanding as a castle for “Love Story,” a classroom for “Teardrops on My Guitar,” and a fully working waterfall for “Should’ve Said No.” Each set change complemented the designated song perfectly.
I was not too thrilled about her costume changes at first, but it kept the show moving and held the audience’s attention.
The encore was led by Swift’s bass player, Amos Heller, who literally conducted the screaming crowd to decide how many final songs to play. He settled on two more songs and with that, the stage illuminated again and out pranced Swift in a Philadelphia Eagles jersey with a smirk on her face. She even changed the lyrics to “Today Was a Fairytale” to incorporate
Finishing with her signature rain shower, Swift literally took Philly by storm and made the natives proud to call her their own. My ears are still ringing from this concert.