Taylor Swift promised her fans, bruised by the Ticketmaster debacle, that she would present every aspect of her 10-album career when she took to the stage for her new tour—"a journey through all of my musical eras," she said. In the first concert Friday night in Glendale, Arizona, Swift managed to do that, in an epic effort that included 44 songs and ran more than three hours, per the Arizona Republic. "Is it just me or do we have a lot to catch up on?" she asked when doing songs from Evermore, the album released at the height of the pandemic. The concert has been widely praised, with headlines calling it "triumphant" and "unbelievable." Interest was high: Kelsea Ballerini paused her show in Detroit on Friday night to ask the audience about one Swift song, per Entertainment Tonight. Assured that "Cruel Summer" was on Swift's setlist, Ballerini said, "Wow, that's my Super Bowl," then resumed her own concert. Other responses cover:
- The scope: More recent songs received more air time, Ed Masley notes in the Republic. "But as much as that suggests she may feel closer to the newer songs," he writes, "you never would’ve guessed that the way she was throwing herself into vocals as impassioned as 'Enchanted' or the vulnerability she flashed on the single that launched her career, an understated 'Tim McGraw.'"
- The ticket mess: Swift said early on that she realized the fans went through "considerable effort" to be there. "Through her singing, dancing, storytelling, sweating and strutting both on the main stage and the lengthy catwalk, she rewarded them mightily," Melissa Ruggieri writes in USA Today.
- The range: The stage, which jutted into the crowd, "was set up for both big-tent power and maximum intimacy," Jon Caramanica writes in the New York Times. Swift "tackled each period of her career—the dynamic ones and the flaccid ones alike—with real gusto, in outfits covered in glitter, or fringe or glittery fringe," he says.
- The costumes: Ruggieri calls the show "a quick-change costume parade." Alicia Brunker details the sparkly costumes, one of which brought up an old feud, in InStyle. Brucker praises the concert but finds the "outfits even more dazzling."
- The effect on fans: "After years of having their inner lives shaped by Swift's highly mediated virtual output, 63,000 individuals can now attest to the vibrancy of Taylor Swift the person," Spencer Kornhaber writes in the Atlantic. "Somehow, seeing her up close made her seem more superhuman."
- The effect on Swift: "I don’t know how to process all of this and how it’s making me feel right now," she said after the first song, per the Republic. Near the end, as fans sang along, she broke down in tears and told them, "I can't believe this is happening to me."
Ruggieri points out the physical toll Swift will face in performing 51 more times on the Eras Tour, which is scheduled into August. "Not since the most vigorous days of Bruce Springsteen and his legendary live concerts has a mainstream artist packed so much music into one show," she writes. Springsteen also is on tour now, and at age 73, he's shortened his concerts. On a Springsteen board, one poster discussing Swift's marathon on Saturday asked, "Has the torch been passed?" (Read more Taylor Swift stories.)