Taylor Swift dazzles on Eras Tour in Chicago

Taylor Swift brought her attendance breaking Eras Tour through Chicago recently for 75,000 fans per night and I was there for the second evening. The night started off with Owenn (with two N’s). An infusion of rock, R&B, and pop, who brought fantastic energy to the stage. His music stands on its own, but it should be noted that he is a previous back-up dancer for Ms. Swift herself.  The second opener was up-and-coming band Girl in Red. The Norwegian singer-songwriter jumped and danced all over the stage while noting that she was selected as an opener just in time for pride month because that’s something that is super important to Taylor Swift, and also because Girl in Red is just an absolutely killer band. If you haven’t heard their hit “Hannah”, I’d suggest you open up whatever music app you use and put it on repeat.  Finally, after two incredible openers, the 2 minute screen countdown for Taylor Swift began. As someone whose Tik Tok has been overloaded with her tour videos, I knew what was coming and how it was gonna play out; but it was incredible to be surrounded by fans who didn’t know what was about to happen, and to feel that excitement and energy. Taylor’s dancers arrived on stage wearing huge fans that they lowered onto the middle part of the stage, to reveal her grand entrance. The singer-songwriter opened up with a partial performance of “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince” and then immediately launched into “Cruel Summer” letting the crowd know this was her Lovers era portion of the show. The crowd was so not only during that song, but completely drowned out Taylor during the bridge. This was a moment every Swiftie had been waiting for, for over 5 years. Other songs included in this portion of this set were “The Man” and “Lover”. All so beautifully well done and choreographed. Sparklers came down off the stage with a sparkly golden screen as the crowd anticipated what came next, and to those who have been around for quite some time, it was not surprising the next Eras set was for “Fearless”. While Taylor’s self titled album put her name out there, it was “Fearless” that made her a household name, the album that she took home 4 Grammy’s for in her early 20’s. Not only was it incredible to see these songs being played live again 15 years after the initial release, it was also incredible to watch members of Taylor Swift\’s original touring band play those songs once again with her. “Are you ready to go back to high school” she said before playing her massive hit “You Belong With Me”. And as someone who has grown up with her since the beginning, I love that she knows her demographic in that way. I am 30 years old, and was 16 when that song became a single. I love the nostalgia that comes with hearing that particular set live, and also love that I was seated next to a small child who was also singing every word right along with me. Because one day, when she’s older, she will more than likely relate that song of unrequited love. That right there, is the proof of generational reach that this amazing 33 year old woman has all across the world. The next set to come up was for the album “Evermore”. The album so many Swifties have claimed to be “forgotten” in the discography; but this part of the Eras tour truly ended up one of the most visually stunning. She opened with a shortened version of “‘Tis the Damn Season” then immediately followed into album opener “Willow”. Taylor and her dancers were cloaked as witches while a forest of trees and a fire blazed behind them on the screen. The catwalk spread fire with every step the cloaked dancers took, giving a forest witch vibe. Taylor took to the piano to play fan favorite “Champagne Problems”, and then followed into a “Tolerate It” which saw the singer set up and tear down a dining room table all to catch the attention of her on stage partner. Seriously, someone give this woman an Oscar for this song performance alone, she deserves it.  The screen faded to black and the crowd anxiously held their breath for the era that was about to come next. A massive snake flashed across the screen and everyone immediately knew we were headed into all of our Reputation era. Reputation was the last album Taylor Swift toured on; a massive stadium tour that held everyone in a chokehold. The screen flashed to Ms. Swift walked down a hallway in boots and she appeared on stage while the opening of “Ready For It” began to play, the same song she opened with on that same tour so many years ago. If you were an unfortunate soul (like me) who missed that tour, this set was specifically made for you (us). And Lord knows, she really took us to church during “Don’t Blame Me” and had a seamless transition into “Look What You Made Me Do” afterwards.  The music slowed down just long enough for Taylor to change outfits and remerge for the only song she plays off the Speak Now era, “Enchanted”; her glittery ball gown a stark contrast to the red and black revenge jumpsuit she wore only minutes ago. While personally I wish she had more songs off that album, it\’s obvious she\’s saving her versions of them for the re-release in July. However, no matter what type of relationship you are in, it will always feel good to just scream “please don’t be in love with someone else, please don’t have somebody waiting on you” with 75,000 other people. The ballroom goddess quickly switched in cabincore attire to perform her first quarantine album Folklore. Opening the set with “The 1” (which has been changed in and out with “Cardigan”), she quickly set the tone for the more somber set that was to come. Personally, I believe that Folklore was the album that should have come after Red. It’s the album that has truly showcased Taylor Swift’s writing and storytelling far beyond the same hits that play on the radio over and over again. I mean, how many people own 80 million dollars in real estate and actually take the time to look into the history of one of the homes and write a song about it (Last Great American Dynasty–also performed during the set). Her attention to detail on this album, the writing, is what I believe has set her apart from any and all pop stars. “I started writing this album 3 days into lockdown” she said to the crowd. This woman wrote two full albums in 2020, I couldn’t even bake bread. But she created a story and a home inside this set with the cabin and the love triangle between Betty, James, and Inez. Fictional characters and stories she infused her feelings into. A story we have invested into for the last 3 years. And while we may never have a definitive answer on how it ended, we can always guess it’s a happy ending, because that’s what she would want us to believe.  After taking us on a story time, Taylor Swift decided we needed to dance more and thus began her 1989 era. Who doesn’t love dancing to “Style”? While you can very obviously guess which famous ex that song is about, much like the lyrics suggest, it will never “go out of style”. This was by far the most light and poppy side of her Eras tour, with hits like “Blank Space” and “Shake it Off”, the crowd (who is over 2 hours in at this point), can’t help but dance and shake off whatever fatigue they absolutely have to have felt at that point. Most of us are in our late 20’s to 30’s, and Taylor Swift is the only woman who could have us popping off for this long, truly. It also helped that she shot off pyro during “Bad Blood” just for extra measure to make sure we were all awake heading into the last leg of the show. After the 1989 set, is when Taylor slows it down and plays her secret songs; songs she has never played live, or maybe songs that she has, but she plays a stripped down version of it. I fully believe Saturday night attendees got the best of the secret songs. We were graced with the presence of Maren Morris for the live debut of Fearless vault track “You All Over Me”. Which sounded so stunningly beautiful live. Immediately after Ms. Morris left the stage, and without a word, Taylor turned to the piano to play “I Don’t Wanna Live Without You”, her song she did with Zayn for the Fifty Shades trilogy. It’s not secret what’s been said regarding Taylor and her relationships in tabloids recently, and your heart couldn’t help but break when her voice cracked during the line “wondering if i dodged a bullet or just lost the love of my life”. This woman is going through so many personal things, which come out in her music, but she is on a massive tour that includes a 3 hour performance each night. She may be famous, but she is still a human and I feel for her.  Swift immediately rallied with the help of 75,000 people screaming, just in time for her to come and perform her final era from her latest release Midnights. This performance included dancers walking around with clouds and a costume change from a bedazzled during “Lavender Haze” and “Anti Hero” to a midnight blue bodysuit for “Midnight Rain.” But the real fun of this set was the chair dance Taylor did during “Vigilante Shit”. For a celebrity that keeps a pretty clean image, it was good to see our queen feel sexy and free during such a badass song. Of course we also got to hear her longest running number one song “Anti Hero” followed by “Mastermind” and show closer “Karma” (including massive fireworks and confetti).  The Eras Tour isn’t simply just a tour, its an ode to the icon that is Taylor Swift. It is an ode to everyone who has been here for 17 years since the beginning. It’s an ode to all the new little fans who get to grow up with this music and keep it close to their heart because it is so raw and emotional. This tour is an ode to every fan who fought The Great War with Ticketmaster and got tickets. This tour is a love letter to everyone who has been heartbroken, in love, wanted revenge, enchanted to meet a stranger. This tour is a love letter to almost 80k people who show up each night to scream these songs over and over again the way they have in their car, room, and with their friends for years. It’s a culture, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a music genre all its own. And I’m just lucky to get to be here to see it.  -Bailee Logan