It’s no secret that the last two years have been a little confronting, confusing and scary in this current political climate. More than ever before we have needed artists to stand up, spread love and empowerment. And for Taylor Swift’s massive ‘Reputation Stadium Tour’ she did just that with an empowering and incredible all female led line-up. Touching down in Brisbane for the final date of the Australian leg, the 40,000 strong crowd packed The Gabba in eager anticipation for what would become a pretty memorable and empowering night.
As the sun set and the big strobe lights lit up the stage, New Zealand duo Broods kicked off their set with album cuts ‘Hold The Line’ and ‘L.A.F’. As the crowd began to warm up to their indie-pop vibes they turned up the volume and supplied some groovy production with ‘Bridges’, ‘Free’ and ‘We Had Everything’. Over the years, lead singer Georgia Nott has grown so much from this awkward but powerful vocalist to this commanding front woman who oozes so much personality as she struts up and down the adjacent catwalks. As the euphoric ‘Couldn’t Believe’ began, everyone got onto their feet and started to jump in unison to the feel-good hook. Closing their set with recent single ‘Peach’ they showcased an incredible growth and highlighted a promising future that will hopefully see some of this packed crowd seeing them again very soon.
After a short change-over, the heavy synth bass of ‘Boom Clap’ powered through the sound system alerting the arrival of British favourite, Charli XCX. For her prime-time support slot she didn’t hold back by giving the crowd all of her big pop hits. With ‘I Love It’, ‘Break The Rules’ and recent single ‘1999’ delivering massive early sing-alongs, she had the crowd instantly on their feet dancing and screaming along enthusiastically. “We played in Melbourne, we played in Sydney, but maybe it’s all about Brisbane?” she exclaimed to the loud and ecstatic crowd. She has this euphoric and carefree energy that you can’t help but smile and vibe to instantly. She’s a bit of a party girl, a bit of rule breaker but you can tell she has this vulnerable and caring side to her which is also so appealing. With a massive smile beaming on her face, she continued her set with the rowdy ‘Dirty Sexy Money’, ‘5 In The Morning’ and the cheesy (but epic) ‘Boys’. I would’ve liked to have heard more of her pump-up anthems from her recent two mixtapes but she really was trying to appeal to the more “pop” driven crowd. As she danced up and down the stage, she effortlessly grooved and sang with her auto-tune microphone which gave you all the cool and futuristic pop vibes. Closing her set with ‘Fancy’ she switched up he classic production with a heavier hip-hop meets synth layered beat halfway through. As she left the stage, the crowd was disappointed that her party vibes were over but you could also feel the excitement lingering over the impending arrival of arguably the biggest pop star in the world.
As the angsty lyrics of Joan Jett’s ‘Bad Reputation’ blasted through the stadium, the lights began to dim and a video montage of tabloid headlines announced the beginning of the ‘Reputation Stadium Tour’. With the stage LED panels rising, the chant of “baby, let the games begin” instantly gave you goosebumps as the silhouette of Taylor Swift emerged from the moody fog. As the spotlight hit her, the lyric “Are you ready for it?” seemed so fitting as CO2 cannons erupted across the giant stage. Powering through opener ‘…Ready for it?’, ‘I Did Something Bad’ and ‘Gorgeous’ with her troupe of dancers it was immediately made aware that this was going to be one high quality and impressive pop production. There was just something so powerful about 40,000 people screaming the lyrics to “If a man talks shit, I owe him nothing” all together that sent a little nice shiver down your spine. Looking around at the parents accompanying their young kids in attendance, not even one of them flinched with the explicit lyric as I think they all agreed that was an important lyric for everyone to sing today more than ever before.
As her dancers left the stage, Taylor welcomed the crowd to the last night of the Australian tour as she reminisced about playing her first ever Australian show in Brisbane at The Tivoli in 2009. Her big smile beamed as she stared out to the massive crowd in attendance with their lit up wristbands illuminated that everyone got handed as they entered the stadium. She strutted up and down the adjacent catwalks that formed a giant x to a medley of the the groovy ‘Style’ and early hits ‘Love Story’ and ‘You Belong With Me’.
After a short costume change and video interlude she re-appeared on stage surrounded by her dancers for the comeback anthem ‘Look What You Made Me Do’. As the last chorus approached a giant blow up snake appeared behind her that had the crowd screaming with excitement. A shortened version of ‘End Game’ followed by recent album favourite ‘King Of My Heart’ and another quick costume change.
Floating across the crowd during the euphoric ‘Delicate’ she landed at a B-stage at the back of the stadium which allowed her to get up-close and personal with everyone in attendance. She welcomed Charli XCX and Georgia Nott from Broods back on stage for a performance of ‘Shake It Off’ before stripping it all back to where it all began; just her and an acoustic guitar. Plucking away to ‘Dancing With Our Hands Tied’ she then announced that tonights secret song would be fan favourite ‘Starlight’ from her ‘Red’ album. Looking around at the crowd she exclaimed that she wanted to go the other side of the stadium, so she ran through the crowd high-fiving lucky fans as she made her way to a second b stage. Once she arrived she launched into ‘Blank Space’ and ‘Dress’. Hopping onto a flying snake she zip-lined back to the main stage for a dramatic mash-up of ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Should’ve Said No’. With the concert coming closer to the end she quickly got changed and returned for the gospel inspired ‘Don’t Blame Me’ before stripping it back on a piano for a mash up of ‘Long Live’ and ‘New Years Day’.
With one final costume change and video interlude, the minimalistic ‘Getaway Car’ had you in awe of the bright and 3D aspects of the LED screens before she gave you one epic finale. With a giant water fountain on centre stage she performed the simplistic pop-ballad ‘Call It What You Want’ which saw confetti filling the aisles. But it didn’t stop there. Turning up the volume one last time for a mash up of ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together’ and ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’ she gave you her all before taking a final bow with her band and dancers while a massive firework display lit up the sky.
With everyone piling out of the stadium, the energy was electric and one thing was made certain, and that was Taylor definitely out did herself with this massive production. While she was fighting off a cold, she still gave a vocally strong and high energy show that was flawlessly executed. The whole production had this nostalgic and empowering vibe to it that reminded me of Madonna’s early tours like the ‘Blonde Ambition World Tour’ because while she has had her fair share of controversies she ends up silencing all the critics with an incredible and powerhouse show that is all about the music and art.