"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
Taylor Swift wowed fans in her first headlining tour in front of a sold-out crowd at Verizon Arena on Saturday night. Her stage banter seemed genuine and from the heart, which, of course is a big part of her success: She's relatable.
The two hour-plus show consisted of hits from her “Fearless” album, as well as some of her old material. There were costumes, choreography and set designs to go along with each number. From the high-school-themed opener “You Belong to Me,” for Swift donned a drum major outfit that later got stripped off to reveal a shimmer-y silver and black flapper dress, to the fairytale castle and dancers in Renaissance garb during “Love Story,” each song played out like a scene from a high school musical, but with better vocals.
The staging and the costumes were unnecessary, and at times even distracting, as was Swift's choreography. Her movement on stage was often awkward — lots of overly emphasized hair flips and strange hip shaking. It was more like a teen-ager dancing alone in her room than a superstar performing in front of thousands. But there's her being relatable again.
There was a lot of video intertwined with the production, some good, some not so much. One clip featured an interview with Hoda Kotb from the “Today” Show, where Hoda asks Swift why she thinks any guy would date her now that everyone knows she uses ex-boyfriends' real names in her songs. Swift says, “Well, I figure that if guys don't want me to write bad songs about them, they shouldn't do bad things.” Girls in the audience went wild.
There were some very real moments in the show that weren't all dressed up with costumes and dancers. Swift sang an entire song, “Hey Stephen,” from the top of the stairs in the back of the arena, surrounded by fans who could reach out and literally touch her. She then walked down the stairs, stopping and greeting fans along the way, to a platform in the back. From the crowd, she performed acoustically what were arguably her two strongest numbers, “Fifteen” and her breakout hit, “Tim McGraw,” which earned her an extended standing ovation that lasted at least five minutes. Another nice moment came at the end of “Love Story” when Swift gave the crown she had been wearing to a little girl in the front.
Swift's musical talent shined strong as well. She played at least four different guitars, including both electric and acoustic, as well as the piano. Her voice, though not as powerful as opener Kellie Pickler, was impressive. Her crossover potential is evident, as was displayed in her incorporation of Justin Timberlake's “What Goes Around ...” Swift closed the show with a drum battle and on-stage waterfall during “Should've Said No,” and an encore performance, along with opening acts Glorianna and Pickler, and one final costume change into an Arkansas Razorback jersey, singing “I'm Only Me When I'm With You.”