“Anticipation” undersells it.
The feeling reverberating through the Yum Center at 8:25PM Tuesday night was more akin to yearning.
And you can’t blame them. The 20,000 + who were there to see Taylor Swift perform her litany of hits were actually there for the second time. The city and the singer made headlines in July after Swift - due to a vocal health issue - made her first ever cancelation of a tour date just hours before curtain time.
But Tuesday was about realization and redemption and when Swift demanded that everyone in the arena “STOP EVERYTHING NOW!” with the opening of her first number, it was obvious everyone there already had. She owned the room.
“I called my management and my label after we had to cancel,” Swift said later in the evening. “I wanted to know if you all were angry. They told me that NO – they had only had thousands of you inquire about my health and tell me to get well! I couldn’t believe it! You guys are so NICE!”
Swift’s stage show combines elements of rock and roll, baroque, tap dance, and Broadway and boasts elaborate sets that changed the Yum Center from front porch to wedding chapel to living room seamlessly. Her Nashville band and bevy of dancers took simple songs like “Speak Now” and turned them into productions akin to a night at the theater.
But Swift isn’t just show. Almost as much time as she spent surrounded on stage Tuesday, she spent by herself, proficiently handling banjo, 12-string guitar and ukulele, and leading tens of thousands through every word of her anthems about crushes, broken hearts and bright, shiny horizons. She even took time mid-set to pay tribute to Kentucky by adequately handling Dwight Yoakam’s “Back of Your Hand. ”
There are plenty of people who have negative things to say about Taylor Swift. Some say she is not “country. ” Others point to her as a prime example of auto-tuning and studio manipulation. Others just find her annoying. But onstage with her unabashed smile and catching enthusiasm, it seems impossible not to get sucked into her culture.
And there is something particular to notice about the phenomenon of Swift. She is a female respectfully singing to and with other females. While a year ago Bieber was breaking hearts at Yum Center and just a month ago Katy Perry gyrated and bragged about kissing girls and being a teenage dream, Swift used that platform Tuesday night to illustrate that sex isn’t the only thing a girl in this world has to long for or sell.
You don’t have to think she’s “country,” but it’s hard to argue that teaching young females in our city to respect themselves is a bad thing.
Photos: Charles Hill Photography | See MORE of Tuesday's Taylor photos HERE.