The late Barbara Walters once said, “Taylor Swift is the music industry.” Swift’s legion of loyal fans packed NRG on Saturday for one of three sold-out shows of her Eras Tour. The pop star, and fierce LGBTQ ally and activist, commanded the stage at every turn during the three-hour set as she took fans through a journey of her iconic career, which spans more than 17 years.
With a fan base whose demographic transcends race, age, and sexual orientation, Swift packed NRG, which was filled to the brim with a melting pot of Swifties. Opening act Gracie Abrams delighted the crowd while donning a Reputation-era t-shirt touting Swift’s star power saying, “Taylor Swift is quite literally the best at this.” Bea Kristi, aka Beabadoobie, also warmed up the crowd, donning a black lace top, black skirt, and knee-high black boots. The Filipino-born, British singer-songwriter commanded the massive stage, ultimately bringing the crowd to their feet. Beabadoobee also gave Swift her flowers saying, “I want to thank Taylor Swift for being awesome and giving me this opportunity to be on this stage. She is one badass woman!
Following the openers, songs played throughout the venue, eventually leading to Lady Gaga’s song “Applause”. As the hit song finished, a countdown clock appeared on the massive LED screen upstage and the more than 62,000 fans in NRG Stadium rose to their feet, as they were able, with bated breath as the clock ticked down to 0.
Deafening screams from the floor up to the nosebleeds rang throughout the venue as Swift appeared on stage, kicking off her show with the first of 44 songs, “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” before segueing to the highly anticipated live performance of “Cruel Summer”, a universal fan-favorite from the album Lover. Having transitioned effortlessly from track to track, Swift took a moment to address the audience, referring subtly to the Ticketmaster fiasco that dominated headlines when tickets for the tour went on sale, saying, “You treat us like family…thank you for the effort you put in to be here tonight…Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you.”
Fans dressed in outfits that paid homage to Swift’s storied career danced and sang/screamed along with the artist as she segued between her various eras, or albums, with outfit changes and even swapping out microphones to match each specific vibe. LED wristbands given to concertgoers lit up the stadium throughout the show, creating an immersive, visually stunning experience for all. Swift, who is known to treat each audience to different surprise songs on this tour, treated the Saturday crowd to “A Place in This World” from her debut album, Taylor Swift, on guitar, and “Today Was a Fairytale” from Fearless (Taylor’s Version) on piano.
Swift spent much of her time moving about the stage, reaching out to the audience, dancing with her backup dancers, and utilizing the platform in the middle of the downstage area which would rise up, bringing Swift, her dancers, and backup vocalists along with her at times. Arguably the most touching part of the evening followed Swift’s performance of “Marjorie” , a song about her late grandmother from her album Evermore. “Singing that song with you in this stadium…with all of you connecting with it in some way, it does something to my heart, Houston, Texas.” Swift went on to explain that Marjorie, a singer in her own right, lived in Houston after moving her family to Bayou City. Swift’s mother, Andrea, attended Memorial High School and the University of Houston, eventually marrying Swift’s father, Scott, in Houston as well.
Swift dazzled with hit after hit, including the song, “You Need to Calm Down”, which inspired the stadium to scream the iconic lyric, “‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay” while dancing along with Swift to the upbeat track. The show, which began promptly at 8 p.m. and ended at 11 p.m. was a physical feat for Swift, who danced, climbed, sang, and played guitar and piano throughout the duration of the performance, at one point, even diving into the stage before re-emerging in a new “era.”
Swift exudes female power, sexiness (especially during the Reputation and Midnights era performances), all while maintaining the fun-loving spirit that has enamored fans across the globe for nearly two decades. Treating attendees to tracks from her most recent album, Midnights, Swift brought her dancers to center stage to perform “Vigilante Shit”, which gave major “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago vibes, which is appropriate for the musical-loving Swift. She knows what her fans want and she delivered flawlessly. The mic was on and to say the concert was anything less than iconic would be laughable. Not many other artists can say they kept an audience enraptured throughout a ten minute song like Swift when she performed “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version).”
Ending her hours-long extravaganza with the track “Karma”, Swift and her dancers filled the stage, donning multicolored tinseled jackets creating a colorful, dare I say rainbow, design to end the night. After the supporting performers left the stage, Swift stood alone and took a moment to thank Houston for the city’s love and support over the years before descending below the stage while music played and confetti drifted down from the ceiling, marking the end of the historical NRG Stadium concert.
Swift’s concert will undoubtedly live on for years to come, thanks to all of the fans armed with cell phones to post their memories to social media, but nothing beats being in the room where it happens. Swift made the whole place shimmer — she’s a star, baby.