Taylor Swift + Vance Joy at Manchester Arena, UK – 24th June 2015

Posted by Bianca on Wednesday Jun 24, 2015 Under Pop

Gig Review by Nic Jones with Photography by Kate Snape

Taylor Swift 1989 Tour

We last reviewed Taylor Swift on her ‘Red’ tour a year and a half ago. It’s incredible how much has changed in the last 18 months. The phenomenal success of her first ‘pop’ album has catapulted her into being one of the most influential entertainers in the world (not even Apple would argue with that it seems). So it was without hesitation that we went down to the Manchester Arena to catch one of only three shows in England on the 1989 World Tour. Swift’s gig was the hottest ticket in town this evening; with everyone we came into contact with professing their desire to be there.

Taylor Swift 1989 Tour

Arriving early it was clear that this was to be no ordinary show. Audience members young and old decorated themselves in fairy lights, carrying signs, dressed as characters from her music videos were gathered excitedly in the Arena ready to capture a glimpse of their idol. Vance Joy was there to entertain and as a choice for a support act he was an inspired one. Known in his own right for his incredibly catchy breakout hit ‘Riptide’, his star is on the rise and as a singer / songwriter the delicacy of his performance ensures the audience is warmed up and ready for the main event.

Taylor Swift 1989 TourTaylor Swift 1989 Tour

The atmosphere in the Manchester Arena is electric as Swift makes her entrance with 1989’s opening track ‘Welcome to New York’. 15,000 people’s wristbands come to life, illuminating the room as the sound hits fever pitch. The rousing standing ovation and deafening screams at the end of the first track sets the tone and sends a clear message: Manchester loves Taylor Swift. She struts down a long narrow hydraulic catwalk through the Arena and beams with astonishment and pride, but the reception is well deserved.

Taylor Swift 1989 TourTaylor Swift 1989 Tour

From the first minute Swift glides easily through a slick and accomplished performance whilst also providing the occasional nod to her pre-pop days. 1989 is a strong body of work which translates well into an Arena setting. The romanticised 80s euphoric pop feel turns album tracks into anthems in a live setting, with barely a soul in the crowd not singing along to the words. A short way into the concert Taylor discusses 80’s films as being part of the inspiration behind some of the tracks on 1989, and this theme weaves itself through her live show. ‘How You Get The Girl’ is a real highlight when cleverly imagined in the style of ‘Singing In The Rain’ with dancers swinging around lampposts, illuminated umbrellas in hand.

Taylor Swift 1989 Tour

Aside from 1989, Taylor includes a number of earlier crowd pleasers, giving them a distinctive twist. ‘Love Story’ is reimagined in the style of 80s synth-pop, ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ becomes a rock number, complete with head banging and electric guitars and most impressively ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ benefits from a sultry, bluesy touch, echoing the sentiment behind its own lyrics.

Taylor Swift 1989 Tour

Throughout the show, Swift often halts proceedings to talk at length with the crowd. It’s at these times it becomes apparent that she takes her responsibility as a role model and the pop star everyone wants to be friends with very seriously. She talks openly about the struggles young people face growing up in a digital age, about love and how difficult it can be to traverse and mostly about how connected she feels to her fans around the world. She creates a very warm and welcoming environment. She’s smart, humble, endearing and just the right amount of awkward to not be intimidating. Sets in the show are interspersed with video footage of Swift’s friends (famous and non-famous) discussing similar issues; it’s a nice way of bringing her female squad on the road with her and continuing to support female empowerment and friendship in a world where so many women are pitted to compete against each other.

Taylor Swift 1989 Tour

By the time we make it to monster hit ‘Shake It Off’, Swift has been playing for over two hours and it’s a mammoth finale to a great pop concert. Whilst she may not be new to performing, all out pop is a different style for her but you would never be able to tell. She’s every inch an international mega star and this evening in Manchester she set the bar extremely high for all of her contemporaries. I’ve seen many pop shows at the Manchester Arena, I’d find it very hard to name a better one that that.

Taylor Swift 1989 Tour

Set List: Welcome to New York / New Romantics / Blank Space / I Knew You Were Trouble / I Wish You Would / How You Get The Girl / I Know Places / All You Had To Do Was Stay / You Are In Love / Clean / Love Story / Style / This Love / Bad Blood / We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together / Wildest Dreams (mashup with Enchanted) / Out of the Woods /  Shake It Off

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