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Concert Reviews:
Taylor Swift dazzles with theatrics at Ford Field

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, June 12, 2011

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DETROIT -- Sitting at the bottom of a faux tree in the center of Ford Field on Saturday night (June 11), Taylor Swift told that crowd that "I'm curious; if you all sang the same thing, what would it sound like?"

Where was she the previous hour?

Swift, after all, was hardly the only one singing during the two hours and 17 songs of the first North American stadium show of her Speak Now World Tour. Nearly 48,000 fans joined in unison, from the first line of "Sparks Fly" to the final notes of "Love Story," part of what was nothing less than a love affair between the 21-year-old singer-songwriter and followers who were mostly female and mostly teens, tweens and younger -- quite a few of whom carried signs professing their adoration and dressing in lookalike outfits.

And they screamed, loudly -- when they arrived at the building, as they put on their souvenir T-shirts, when they saw their text messages on the video screens and especially when Swift entered the stage at the start of the show and after each of her nine costume changes.

Swift, meanwhile, delivered a spectacle worthy of the pandemonium. She is no longer the newbie country waif singing about "Tim McGraw" and adolescent romantic yearning. She's now a performer as ambitious and polished, if not as provocative, as Madonna or Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, using her music as the basis for a theatrically minded show that didn't miss a trick from ensemble dance numbers to ariel stunts to deftly executed set changes and carefully placed pyrotechnics. Saturday's show was part Broadway and part music video, tightly choreographed and finely scripted right down to the final bows.

So while it's nice that Swift -- who's perfected the direct, intense gaze into the camera and onto the video screens -- told us it was a night she'll "remember for the rest of my life," you kinda know that she said the same thing in Milwaukee. And Columbus. And Orlando. And...well, you get the point.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anybody at Ford Field who minded that, however. They were dazzled and charmed by a production that didn't quit, and they'll remember plenty of highlights -- like Swift and a pair of dancers playing girl group at a fully staged wedding during "Speak Now" or dancers flying out from inside a trio of bells during "Haunted." Swift played "Our Song" and "Mean" on a makeshift front porch, then delivered "Back to December" while fake snow fell from above and the eight dancers played violin on a proscenium behind her piano.

Swift also took nice walks through the audience to the aforementioned tree before "Fearless" and during "You Belong to Me," then flew over the crowd on a portable balcony during "Love Story." A few songs dragged -- notably "Last Kiss" and, until the fireworks kicked in, "Dear John" -- but mostly Swift's show kept the crowd dazzled and charmed, taking in the sights even as they sang along at a volume that competed with the sound coming from the stage.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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