Taylor Swift’s Big Reputation Holds True in Houston
Oh, look what we made her do ... Taylor Swift left country music and grew into a pop superstar who sells out massive football stadiums.
On her Reputation Tour at NRG Stadium in Houston on Saturday night (Sept. 29) — one of the last two U.S. shows on a multi-month global run — Swift, 28, was bright and bubbly and at her best, and even in snakeskin, she was familiar. The guitar-strumming teen with the warm smile and big heart for her fans is not dead, after all.
Swift has been on tour since May in support of her November 2017 Reputation album, which is fully pop, but she blends in hits from the "old Taylor" seamlessly. "You Belong With Me" / "Love Story" / "Style" was a big mashed-song production that came early in a nearly two-hour set, and later, "Long Live" was a beautiful, raw ballad moment that put Swift at her sparkly grand piano. She mixed classics with new offerings to make unforgettable dance jams, and even brought out the confetti to "Shake It Off."
On her first-ever all-stadium tour, the superstar was mostly gracious to others, including her fans for coming to see her (thanked them several times) and to her backup singers, her dancers, her band and her all-female tour roster (a fact she called out), which included openers Charli XCX and Camila Cabello. Swift gave a special nod to security "who keeps us safe every night," and even the local crews who make an event like a concert for 50,000-plus screaming fans possible.
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When not on the big stage, Swift zoomed across stadium in two different chariots — one reminiscent of "Love Story"-era Taylor Swift, complete with sparkly white lights, and the other a snake carcass — for mini-shows on small stages. Here she traded fireworks and flame blasts for a guitar and a mic stand on a stripped version of "Dancing With Our Hands Tied" and the fan-favorite "Wonderland" (a treat for Swifties who yearn for album cuts over hit singles), as well as the sexier "Blank Space" and "Dress."
"This is the most fun I have ever had on a tour ... I can't believe this tour has been a real thing," she remarked at one point, telling her captives that "even the coolest daydreams" she had as a kid didn't hold a candle to what she's been seeing on her Reputation Tour.
The 2018 run, which wraps in Japan in November, is a larger-than-life theatrical show that brings her bumpy story to big screens, going from light to dark to light again. There are subtle moments — like when the camera panned to the word "Reputation" on her piano after "New Year's Day" — but the significance wasn't lost on the crowd.
In the 12 years since we really met Swift with her debut country single, "Tim McGraw," she's grown and changed dramatically, both musically and personally, but she hasn't forgotten what fuels her: her fans. On Saturday night, Swift was candid about pitfalls she's faced in the last few years (public breakups, public lawsuits, public onslaughts from other celebrities) and spoke almost directly to the little girls in the room about bullying and what it means to have a "reputation." With awed faces, they seemed to absorb the message from their idol.
After a freeing, standout "Getaway Car," Swift shimmied into a remixed "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" / "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" closeout. After she left the stage for a final time, fans were greeted with an all-too-true message on the screens in an otherwise dark stadium:
"And in the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive."