Editor’s Note: Record-Herald reporter Brya Labig was in attendance for Friday’s Taylor Swift performance.
CINCINNATI — On Friday and Saturday, musical legend, Taylor Swift, performed in Cincinnati, Ohio for the first time since the tour of her sophomore album, “Fearless,” back in 2009.
Swift’s “The Eras Tour” averaged about 70,000 viewers per night at the Cincinnati Bengals’ Paycor Stadium. The five-hour performance put on by Swift and her openers, Gracie Abrams and Muna, is said to have caused an economic shift in the Cincinnati area, along with the other attractions set up over the weekend.
Pre-sale tickets for Swift fans started last November, which allowed dedicated fans to buy better tickets at reasonable prices through Taylor Nation Inc. Tickets sold after pre-sale inflated from $1,000 – $6,000. Still, Paycor Stadium was completely sold out filled to the brim with crowds of fans anxiously awaiting Swift’s arrival.
On both Friday and Saturday night, the evening started off with indie-pop singer and songwriter, Gracie Abrams, who played four of her biggest songs from her previous EPs and her latest debut album, “Good Riddance.” This was followed by an eight-song performance by the indie/pop/rock band, Muna. The energy brought by this band, which is one of Swift’s current favorite bands, was captivating and electrifying.
The long-awaited, grand performance brought by Swift, was teased by her dramatic entrance from within the middle of the stage. Swift was covered by pastel sheets which were carried by her dancers, until she emerged in a sparkling bodysuit. The singer/songwriter brought her fans on a marvellous journey through the various eras of her musical career and life.
It began with the romantic and dreamy album she released in 2019, “Lover,” which the tour was cancelled for due to the pandemic. She played through her top hits like Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince and Lover, which were easily crowd favorites. Swift then sang deeply personal songs off the album like The man, which expresses her grief with misogyny in the industry, and The Archer, a slow and thoughtful song which expresses her deepest fears of being alone and misunderstood.
Swift also brought her fans on a whirlwind through her imagination during the pandemic years, in which she wrote her folk/indie sister albums, “Folklore” and “Evermore.” It was during these isolated years that Swift’s knack for storytelling was at its peak, as the songwriter spent time in the deep outdoors, and allowed her imagination to take flight. Swift’s team even prepared a scenic cabin just for the Folklore/Evermore era performances to match the one she imagined writing the lyrics from.
“I imagined I was in this sort of cabin in the woods, instead of a white-woman millennial watching TV, stuck at home,” Swift joked with the Cincinnati crowd. She added cheerfully, “I never imagined I would actually get to play these songs with you, and now look at us!”
During the song Marjorie, from her album Evermore, the crowd surprised Swift by igniting flashlights in the stadium to honor Swift’s late grandmother, Marjorie.
After introducing her unperformed albums from 2019-2021, Swift also performed nostalgic albums like Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), Red (2012), 1989 (2014) and Reputation (2017). The singer wore costumes to represent each era accordingly, from a ball gown to a shimmering two-piece, to a one-legged bodysuit. Swift’s team even set up towering torches ignited with fire during her Red era performances.
During each concert, Swift provided a quiet and intimate moment with the crowd to perform two surprise songs from any of her recorded albums. On Saturday, however, Swift decided to take the surprise even further and added an extra song. Swift invited Gracie Abrams back to the stage to perform I Miss You, I’m Sorry by Abrams. Swift and Abrams played together (Swift on guitar, Abrams on piano) acoustically for the first time at none other than Paycor Stadium.
The Los Angeles native, Gracie Abrams, is only 23 years-old, and is already topping the music charts with her vulnerable lyrics and haunting, acoustic melodies. Her first full-length debut album, “Good Riddance,” came out just in February. Abrams, who has been working on her own music for most of her life, has always been a huge fan of Swift’s. The opportunity to not only open for one of the biggest artists in the world, but to also have a close friendship with Swift is something Abrams cherishes.
Before the Eras tour had begun, Abrams told W Magazine, “to study the way that she does what she does, I can only imagine how life altering that will be.” She added, “I’ve been her biggest fan forever, and I’m baffled that she’s offered me this spot.”
Swift ended the concert with top hits from her latest album, “Midnights,” like Lavender Haze, which was accompanied by dreamy clouds and a purple coat added to Swift’s attire. She danced along to her pop hit, Karma, as confetti burst through the air, leaving fans astonished – and ready to see her again.