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The assembly of Taylor Swift - Sydney '1989 World Tour' concert review

currently: listening to 'New Year's Day' by Switchfoot.
"The lights are so bright but they'll never blind me." - 'Welcome to New York', Taylor Swift

Those lyrics are basically how I'd describe my view on Taylor Swift. She's a bright superstar of the pop world, however she's never been near the top of my number one choices of music (though I did have some real love for her RED album...)

But what do you do when your friends are Taylor Swift crazy, offer that you join them in Sydney for a concert, invite you to wear a matching costume with them, and take a week off work to holiday in Australia?

If you can't beat them, then paint yourself a dress based off a Taylor Swift perfume bottle and fly to Sydney with them.

Fun fact - some old man in Sydney tried to photograph me as I crossed the street wearing this dress. Also, this dress flatters no one.
"A gift from Taylor, be sure to use this in the concert". An attendant stopped me as I passed through the gate, handing me this plain chunky white band. In some ways attending a Taylor Swift concert is like attending a massive cult meeting. Female fans flock to be in the presence of their idol and shining star Taylor Swift as she graces the city with her presence and spinny stage. Around 76,000 people were going to be at this concert. In comparison, it's bigger than the entire town of Nelson (population 64,000 - cheers Wikipedia.) A third of those people were queued up for food, merch and the female bathrooms. I should have eaten dinner before the concert.

Some of the crazy fans who put serious effort.
As I people-watched from our Row 30 seats in the back of the stadium, there were clear costume trends that meant painted dresses like mine didn't exactly stand out. '1989' signs were common, as were fairy lights - lots of fairy lights. Signs were also common, as were fox outfits, Starbucks outfits, people dressed up as trees, and an entire pack of unicorns. They were of course all dressed up to increase their chances of meeting Taylor Swift in this exclusive invite-only "Loft 1989". And I guess so was I - otherwise I would have opted to wear concert attire that I didn't handpaint.

Vance Joy was a perfect opening act. He's got that Ed Sheeran charm with that folky Avalanche City hometown vibe in Sydney. He's easy to listen to as the sun began to set over the stadium, and of course 'Riptide' was a real winner as a finale. I hadn't actually listened to any of his other songs but they're definitely perfect summer tunes.

Then after a short intermission, Taylor Swift arrived right on time onto the stage. Or rather, all the wristbands we had on us started flashing and lighting up. I actually forgot to look at her turn up on stage...

Opening with 'Welcome to New York' (which is a song not exactly relevant for anyone in Sydney), her song and the wristbands were coordinated to the beat of the music. Which is actually seriously mesmerising to look at.

Taylor Swift - 'Welcome to New York' - Sydney 1989 World Tour
A Taylor Swift concert where watching the audience is almost more entertaining than watching the stage. Review coming soon...
Posted by Mel in the milkyway on Friday, 4 December 2015

She did stop singing to make this one face she always does. She did it at the beginning of her shows in Auckland too, where her face stares out and invites all the screaming to start. And her look kind of irks me because it feels really fake and a little smug. It's as if the screaming acts as the energy for her imaginary pedestal that everyone puts her on - and she happily sits at the top of it. Maybe that's Tall Poppy, or maybe it's the Holden Caulfield/'Catcher in the Rye' in me to be irked by the fakes and phonies in pop music.

Following that song, she sung 'New Romantics' which is a song I don't actually know, followed by 'Blank Space'. During this time she decided to loop pedal herself saying "SEEDKNEE"(Sydney) during her song and talk about how much she loved "SEEDKNEE". And then proceeded to sing 'Blank Space' as "SEEDKNEE" repeated in the background over and over again on each first beat. "SEEDKNEE."

'I Knew You Were Trouble' that followed was a nice rocked-up remix, but some time during another one of Taylor's generic sounding speeches, where she slots the name of the city she's in and talks about having dreams come true etc, the hangry (hungry angry) in me set in. My patience and energy were wearing thin. I NEVER bail from a concert but I honestly just couldn't stand the talking anymore - I had to eat. Thank goodness I was the only one to leave my seat and storm the hot chips counter. It was $6 but it was a decent enough quality of chips.

And then the concert continued on. She played more songs I didn't know, our wrist bands flashed different colours across different sections, and I ate my chips while trying to take it all in. But by then, I was all quite disjointed from the whole deal, feeling overhungry and tired. She's theatrical, though maybe not as much as her last tour. And she walks her catwalk quite a bit. But I didn't really know her songs (she sung 3 old songs in her whole set), and the stage was too small from where I sat to be able to notice what she was really doing. Plus, the way the whole stadium lit up with her songs and how the whole crowd was really interactive with her show was more fascinating to me than what I could manage to see on stage.

The strangest thing to me though was the little videos of her "squad" talking to the camera about how amazing Taylor Swift is. In this large assembly of people who already loved Taylor Swift were these celebrities (Haim, Selena Gomez, Lena Duffin, Karlie Kloss etc) telling stories of how they first met Taylor, how they first heard her album, and why she's so amazing. I don't understand why Taylor Swift used her "squad" as a celebrity endorsement marketing tool. It felt weird. Were we being brainwashed into thinking we'll vote Taylor Swift as our international queen of girl power?

But in saying that, there is power to the preppy blonde princess of country/pop. My friend did make a good point that it is unbelievable so many people "united together" in one place in order to see one pop star. She's popular and she knows it. She knows her audience are the girls who are outcasts, the girls who are like band geeks in 'You Belong With Me', the teens who would rather bake cookies than get baked or drunk. And of course their mums are all for Swift. When she talks to the crowd, she tries to talk as if she's just like them. She's earned that audience and I'll give her that.

Despite all I say, there were still elements of the show I liked. The 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' is a song I hate from her last album but the rock version was a real improvement. She had some great props like her Tron/Singing in The Rain light up dress, and giant paper planes for 'Out of the Woods'. And she does love her spinning stage. But I do think the best was the light-up wrist bands that everyone got, because it suddenly made every one look as if they were part of her stage.

Finishing on 'Shake It Off' and farewelling the crowd with no further encore (and lack of any special guest which seemed to be the biggest fan disappointment of the night), everyone was hooked on playing with their flashing wristbands and filing out sensibly from the venue. It's surreal that 76,000 screaming fans turn into normal human beings after Taylor Swift's show. But I guess our new wristbands meant we were all branded as Swifties forevermore. It wouldn't surprise me if she was secretly using it to track all her Sydney fans. We were all just all part of her big girl squad...

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