Taylor Swift thrives in the rain at Gillette Stadium
A review of Taylor Swift at Gillette Stadium on June 25, 2011
As rain began to fall from the sky on Saturday night, Taylor Swift sang, “There’s something about the way the street looks when it’s just rained”. There was a similar effect on Gillette Stadium as the country-pop superstar propelled through the first of two sold-out shows in Foxboro. While Mother Nature did not cooperate, the downpours seemed fitting for a songwriter who seems to be infatuated with rain. And while the storm grew heavier as the night progressed, Swift embraced the circumstances and delivered a thrilling show for the capacity crowd of 55,000.
Touring in support of her third album, Speak Now, Swift is at the top of her game. Having already rocked Gillette for her first ever stadium headliner last summer, the CMA Entertainer of the Year returned to Foxboro a year later for not one, but two sold out shows at the home of the Patriots. With the new tour, comes more confidence as Swift has truly grown into a role of a stadium headliner.
Opening the show with “Sparks Fly” (fittingly complete with some fireworks), Swift quickly made use of the expansive stage and its catwalk that jetted out through the middle of the field. Next came Speak Now’s lead single “Mine”, as she remained on the main stage, strumming a red guitar, with her band. The new album dominated the 17-song setlist with 12 of its 14 tracks being performed. However, the heavy dose of new material had no effect on the crowd, who vociferously sang along to each song and cheered wildly in-between.
Swift slowed things down with two of her more true country songs in “Our Song” and “Mean”, playing acoustic guitar and banjo respectively. She then took a seat at the piano to deliver the ballad “Back To December” accompanied by an 8-piece string section, and tagged bits of OneRepublic’s “Apologize” and her own “You’re Not Sorry” for good measure. The setlist also featured a few of Swift’s best rockers including the Avril Lavigne meets Paramore angst of “Better Than Revenge”.
Swift has said she was inspired by Broadway when planning the “Speak Now” tour and it is clearly visible in the final product. Many of the songs, such as “Speak Now” and “Haunted”, play out like a live video thanks to a troupe of backup dancers and actors, who as far as pulling off acts fit for Circus du Soleil. The stage itself utilized many backdrops, almost as many dresses that Swift sported (9 or so).
Midway through the show, Swift made her way to a small rotating stage at the back of the field. Sitting against an illuminated tree, Swift changed the show up and scored one of the show’s surprising highlights. Strumming a ukulele, she sang “Fearless” (adding a nice tag of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”) and then with an acoustic guitar, “Last Kiss”. She began “You Belong With Me” on the b-stage before making her way through the crowd and joining her full band on stage for a rocking finish.
As the second half of the show progressed, so did the rain. Starting with just a few drops, it quickly became a downpour with no end it sight. While some fans sought shelter under the overhangs, the vast majority remained in their seats. And the devotion did not go unnoticed by Swift, who beamed with a wide smile as she danced in the rain across the stage and catwalk for the remainder of the show.
Before closing the main set with the infectious “Long Live”, she declared, “I have to say this has been one of the coolest nights of my life. Thank you for screaming for us when it’s pouring rain. We won’t forget you! This is certainly for you.”
Swift returned for a two-song encore that began with “Fifteen”, a fitting ballad of advice for many in attendance, and followed with the smash hit “Love Story”.
It has been said that Swift’s routine of appearing speechless while the crowd screams can be contrived. However, on Saturday, there was no doubt that Swift was truly genuine when she gasped, “I’ll never forget the night I saw 52,000 people dancing in the rain”. Undoubtedly, she delivered a show that the crowd (of 55,000 – but who’s counting?) will not forget.
1. Sparks Fly
3. The Story of Us
4. Our Song
6. Back to December
7. Better Than Revenge
8. Speak Now
10. Last Kiss
11. You Belong With Me
12. Dear John
15. Long Live
– Encore –
17. Love Story