Taylor Swift's Auckland gig reviewed
I've got to say, it's both a draining and empowering experience going to a Taylor Swift concert.
The pop princess performed her first of three Auckland shows at the Vector Arena last night to a sold out audience of 12,000.
Swift comes in swinging on the Red Tour, opening the show as a silhouette behind a crimson sheet while singing the track State of Grace from her latest album Red.
She's the classy, fresh-air alternative to the modern day pop diva - aka the Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez types. Her sickeningly sweet sincerity and her self-penned sing-along songs are so emotionally heavy and heartbreaking that my ovaries felt on the verge of exploding throughout the night.
Vocally, Swift is good. Every number is a near perfect replica of its studio version.
Musically, she impresses. She plays the piano, the banjo, acoustic guitar and electric guitar up on stage with her 11-piece band. And it is so nice to see a musician prove their chops.
From her performance to her image, everything is immaculately manicured.
She often strikes her classic hand-on-hip pose to the beat; she talks to the audience at length and in glorious, gushy detail about what her songs mean to her and why.
She tells her mostly-young female audience to be kind to one another and then clutches hundreds of reaching fangirl and fanboy hands as she whizzes around the arena to make use of the extensive staging she has in place.
LOTS OF TRICKS AND TWIRLS
There's a lot of stuff going on in this new Red Tour.
As the show begins, a man holding a large drum is slowly hoisted into the air. Bizarre, but okay.
You forget about that until, in the middle of the second number Holy Ground a handful of dancers suddenly drop from the ceiling and appear onstage, banging on massive drums illuminated red from the inside.
A flag twirling number follows. Hip hop routines, lyrical choreography and later a cutesy ballerina interlude. The sizable group of dancers parade around the stage in nearly every track, working hard for their money.
Stylewise, 1940s Hollywood glam appears, as do sparkly circus costumes, 90s plaid and renaissance/type princess dresses.
It's fun, but it's an assault on the senses. At times, I'm fascinated. At other points, I've just got a headache from trying to keep up with everything happening on stage.
Most songs off the new album are played. A light sprinkling of older tracks like Sparks Fly, You Belong With Me, Love Story and Mean also make an appearance.
Slightly disappointing is that at times the pace lags, with high tempo hits like 22 and Trouble bringing the energy up, only to have lengthy breaks to allow for costume and set changes bringing the mood down.
Momentum is won back however with the smash hit We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together closing the show.
Wild fans are singing loudly as red and white confetti cascades out of canons and Swift revolves around the arena on a long, raised platform.
It's a spectacle befitting of the crazy, colourful 90 minutes that came before. Then the gracious Swift thanks the crowd and disappears off stage, not offering the audience an encore but one-upping that with a promise she'll be back again soon.