Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Taylor Swift turns relatability into a spectacle at ‘The Eras Tour’ in Singapore

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — It’s been a month since Taylor Swift performed in Singapore, her only Southeast Asia stop in “The Eras Tour” – and I still can’t move on from the fact that I saw in the flesh the person who sang the soundtrack of my life.

I watched this tour in many forms since it started on March 17, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona, through clips on Twitter and TikTok, as well as the concert film thrice in cinemas. I am already familiar with the setlist and what’s going to happen in the show. I memorize the choreography of her Reputation segment and I expected Taylor to do her iconic note change while singing “the 1” at the start of the “folklore” segment.

That being said, was it worth spending to travel from Cebu to Singapore if I had already seen “The Eras Tour” countless times on my phone and the big screen? Absolutely.

Her eras, my chapters

One of my childhood best friends who will see Taylor in Europe later this year told me that there is no perfect time to see the singer live other than this tour where she gets to re-live her eras on her biggest stage yet.

“The reason I wanted The Eras Tour to be separated into chapters is because I wanted it to be a walk down memory lane for anyone who’s come to the shows before,” Taylor said of the tour’s concept before performing “champagne problems” at her March 4, 2024 show at the Singapore National Stadium, which was my show date. “If you haven’t come to a show before, we kinda wanna show you some of the best stuff from all the tours before and then play new stuff and we all dance and sing together all night. That’s what I am hoping and that’s what is happening.”

I was around 11 years old when I first heard of Taylor in 2008 through “Love Story” during her “Fearless” era when her sophomore album made her a worldwide sensation. I was mesmerized by the cinematic storytelling that Taylor wrote in that catchy country song. I was even more amazed that she was only eight years older than me and was able to come up with an interesting parallel of comparing a high school romance to Romeo and Juliet while not coming off as a cliché

It wasn’t until four years later in 2012 that I became a full-on Swiftie through her “Red” era – the start of her slow departure from her country roots for the pop soundscape starting with “We Are Never Getting Back Together.” Even working with a meticulous pop producer like Max Martin, known for making hits for Britney Spears and Katy Perry, Swift never lost her songwriting gold even in pop.

Since becoming a Swiftie, I treated Taylor’s eras as chapters of my life. “Fearless” was when I was transitioning from being a kid to a teen. “Speak Now” was when I was navigating the cruel politics of high school. “Red” was when I was about to graduate high school after a turbulent senior year. “1989” gave me the first taste of what it is like to be an adult.

“Reputation” came around the time when I was cutting toxic people out of my life and focusing on my inner circle of friends who understand me unconditionally. “Lover” was the most optimistic chapter of my life when I gained so many friends in college in ways that I wasn’t able to in high school.

“Folklore” and “Evermore”, the pandemic eras in 2020, made me look back at the life I lived through, waiting for the time when it was safe to go out again. In my mid-20s, “Midnights” is an album that best describe my current state of mind, looking back at all the regrets and the what-ifs while also moving forward with the strengths I have now.

Every Swiftie has their own story of how they became a fan. That’s the beauty of Taylor Swift: she has this way of making her relatable songwriting into something magical. It’s like we are acting out on our “main character” fantasies through Swift as our protagonist.

Musical play in a stadium

The “Eras Tour” is like watching a three-hour musical where the main character re-lives her memories and lives off her fantasies. We are watching Taylor get into the journey of the woman she became today, and I think that is why we can relate to her so much even with her billionaire status as recently declared by Forbes. “I love feeling like I am not alone in certain emotions and you guys made me feel like that,” she remarked.

There is this saying that there’s a Taylor Swift song applicable to every situation and this tour solidified that sentiment. Her entire discography is Taylor’s way of saying that if she has experienced this, we might have gone through something similar, and I think that’s why she can get so many fans to fly out to see her.

Watching the show live will always exceed seeing the corresponding concert film in theaters and now on Disney+, even if my recordings from my show are subpar compared to the high-tech cameras used to shoot the concert movie at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. What the professional cameras didn’t capture was how technically impressive the show was. The visuals on the screen extend to the stage’s floor which is another screen to play off the theatrical elements of the show, as well as to allow fans to feel like they got their money’s worth no matter where they are seated.

Throughout the tour, critics questioned whether Taylor sang live and if she used a backtrack. I can safely say that this is blatantly false. Her microphone was indeed turned on for most of the show. What gave that away was when she quickly coughed while performing “champagne problems” which her microphone was able to pick up.

Taylor knows she doesn’t have the highly impressive singing and dancing skills of her contemporaries such as Adele and Beyonce, but she is aware of her strengths as a performer.. You can see how much effort she puts into dancing and singing for this tour, which is incredibly hard to maintain for a three-hour-and-15-minute show.

Her biggest strength is her stage presence. She has this way of being able to connect to the audience, whether she is talking to her crowd or singing the songs that many Swifties can identify with. Swift uses her relatability to her advantage, transforming the words she wrote into a surreal life that we are projecting ourselves into.

Brilliant, even in acoustic

At the “Surprise songs” segment of my show date, Swift performed a mash-up of “Foolish Ones” from “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) and “Tell Me Why” from “Fearless” on guitar as well as “This Love” from “1989” and “Call What You Want” from “reputation” on piano.

While I may not have gotten my preferred surprise song picks such as “Death by a Thousand Cuts”, which she performed at her March 7 show to my dismay, I still feel lucky to hear these songs. The fact that she was able to make fans go crazy even in an acoustic setting showed Swift as an effective performer all around that any venue of hers, regardless of size, can be intimate.

I couldn’t help but feel multiple emotions at once when I looked back at my “The Eras Tour” show. I never thought I would be able to see Taylor Swift, let alone fly to another country just to see her. She has defined so much of my life and how I see the world that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Regardless of what critics say, “The Eras Tour” shows why Swift is a one-of-a-kind performer. Her talents are like magic tricks up her sleeve.

“Every single person here and the effort that you put in, the planning that you did, all to make sure that you can be here with us tonight hanging out with us here in the Eras Tour,” said Swift. “You don’t know how lucky this makes me feel.”

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