Taylor Swift ends Fearless tour with a bang in Foxboro

A review of Taylor Swift at Gillette Stadium on June 5, 2010

, Staff Writer

Taylor Swift sold out Gillette Stadium, all 56,858 seats of it, in just 20 minutes. And, judging by the hordes of screaming teenagers who gathered in adulation to scream at Taylor, it seems like it wouldn’t have taken her too much longer to sell it out if it were double the size. That Swift is beloved among teenage girls and younger is no surprise; her country-tinged pop music takes its subject matter straight from the halls of high school. What is surprising is that on Saturday night, when she could have done little more than lip sync over a backing track and still brought the house down, she instead brought her A game over the course of her two hour show.

The Fearless Tour, which rolled to a close at Gillette after 15 months and some 110 shows, marked Swift’s transition from opening act to stadium headliner at the tender age of 20, and lucky for her she has the charisma to make it work. Opening number “You Belong With Me” featured Swift in a drum majorette uniform while her backup dancers jumped and kicked in cheerleader uniforms. The school setting immediately let the crowd identify with the star in Miley Cyrus fashion, but when the backup dancers helped remove the costume to reveal Swift’s sparkling silver dress things jumped up a notch to fairytale.

Sparkles were somewhat the theme of the night, as everything from the flashbulbs in the audience to the fiddler’s pants shimmered and shined. Swift’s vocals, occasionally maligned, did the same, faltering only on prolonged high notes, like in “Forever & Always”, but dancing nicely through melodies, like in “Our Song”. Swift’s band even got their own chances to take the spotlight, especially during a fiddle and banjo duel which adorned “Tell Me Why” and, though lost on the young crowd, was an example of the type of musical quality that made up the entire show.

“Teardrops on My Guitar” was the first real country tune of the night, and it was followed up by the eponymous “Fearless”, during which Swift thrashed away the tears. Video interludes boosted the entertainment value of the night, and the one that preceded “Hey Stephen” served another purpose, allowing Swift to emerge in the midst of the lodge seats to sing along with her fans. While it was difficult to hear much over the newly proximate screams, it was an enjoyable moment nonetheless.

Swift soon made her way to a perch atop the sound booth at the 50 yard line for what turned out to be the most worthwhile moment of the night, a semi-acoustic set of “Fifteen”, “Tim McGraw” and “White Horse”. “Fifteen” was tender and heartfelt, “McGraw” was a singalong tribute of what Swift called “the first song you ever heard from me” and “White Horse” was a command performance bordering on power ballad as Swift received cheers heard only by the likes of Bruschi and Brady.

“Love Story” happened back at the stage, and the ensemble were clad in appropriate period pieces for an entertaining performance. “The Way I Loved You” also featured a well put together skit featuring a tuxedoed gent and lead guitarist Grant Mickelson as the love interests. “You’re Not Sorry” took things a step too far, with an overactive fog machine and writhing backup dancers moving things too much into camp territory. To close out the main set Swift stripped things down to heat up a high energy version of “Picture to Burn”.

After the bassist Amos Heller did a bit of conducting to rile up the past-its-bedtime crowd the band returned for “Today Was a Fairytale”, a song off the Valentine’s Day soundtrack and will also reportedly appear on Swift’s upcoming album. It garnered loud cheers in its own right, but they were blown away by the roar received by the confetti cannons towards the climax of the song. “Jump and Fall” was a very nice pop song of the variety that Swift seems to turn out so easily, and it served as an ideal bridge to outsized rocker “Should’ve Said No”. Swift got her scorned diva on during the bridge but took an awkward detour through a Stomp-like oil drum pounding session that befuddled the young crowd, one musical chance that did not have to be taken. The star redeemed herself by reclaiming her spot at center stage and wailing away as the artificial floodgates opened up and the word “NO” rained down on her from the light rig. A soaked Swift then left the stage with some 56,000 screaming devotees in her wake.

While the story going in was that Swift sold out her first stadium show, the question coming out is just how many stadium shows Swift could sell out if she wanted to. Two? Eight? She seemed genuinely surprised by the adulation that she received, stopping several times to bask in the glow of the flashbulbs, but the quality of her show combined with the targeted content of her songs will soon render such mass displays of affection routine. It was Swift’s first sold out summer stadium show. Rest assured it won’t be her last.

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