So I’ve Finally Watched Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour on Netflix

I have been a fan of Taylor Swift since her very first country album – a self-titled album released in 2006. Back in those days, there were listening stations in HMV whereby discovering music was one of my favorite pastimes. That was 13 years ago when she was 16 and I was … let’s not go there.

I have always enjoyed watching Taylor Swift live. Every word seems to be carefully crafted and rehearsed. Every dance and every move down to the very facial expression seems to be meticulously choreographed. My wife was used to find her kind of fake. I see Taylor Swift as someone who puts in lots of hard work to be the perfect performer.

She has a few concert or film recordings.

  1. CMT Crossroads: Taylor Swift and Def Leppard (2009)
  2. Journey to Fearless (2011)
  3. Speak Now World Tour – Live (2011)
  4. The 1989 World Tour Live (2015)
  5. Reputation Stadium Tour (2018)

CMT stands for Country Music Television. I have #1 on DVD. I used to like Def Leppard and I like Taylor Swift. Putting the two together – the old (or legend) and the young, the rock and back-then country – seems like a weird choice. But it works. I love the live performance. I love the interview pieces even more. Taylor Swift received her education from the road as she toured. And it was fun to watch Def Leppard giving her the advice to life.

I do not have #2 but I do have #3 on Blu-ray. She was 22 when the concert was recorded. It was an amazing performance. I struggled to recall what I have accomplished when I was 22. I was one year away from graduating for my Master degree. When I was 22, I debated the existence of alien with my friend over late night study. We had toast with butter and sugar. We would go to bed in the early morning. Our favorite place in college would be the pub. 50 pence for a pint of beer. When Taylor Swift was 22, she had held a concert!

Fast forward to the Reputation Tour, many have changed. She is no longer a young girl but a grown woman. She is no longer the country artist that was introduced to me back in HMV. She embraces different genres of music. At the age of 29, she looks healthy on stage full of energy (you know how some artists these days look really slim and unhealthy). Still the same artist that gave an amazing performance from start to finish. So I have finally watched her Reputation Tour on Netflix. And I am loving it!

Taylor Swift The Red Tour Singapore – The Best It Is

When Taylor Swift first came to Singapore, by the time I saw the advertisement on the paper, the concert was a sold out. Then Taylor Swift has made a return. I vowed to get the tickets this time. By noon, all the tickets were gone. In mere two hours! I have signed up for a notification if Taylor Swift is to open a second concert. She does. An email came to me. But I was not able to buy the tickets. Something is just not meant to be.

Or not.

Taylor Swift with her guitar

Cynthia took this picture when Taylor Swift was performing acoustic version of some of her songs with a T-shirt that says “I Love Singapore”.

8 years ago, Taylor Swift has released her debut album. I remember I was in HMV (City Link Mall) at the classical music section, that also had country music and easy listening. I was very impressed by her music. And she continues to impress me album after album.

So, yesterday I was having a mild flu and was working from home (I was on medical leave). My wife also worked from home (she usually does when I am sick). In the afternoon, one mutual friend of ours Hana messaged Cynthia about Taylor Swift tickets. My wife was like, isn’t that a bit too last minute? I was like, what are you talking about?! It’s Taylor Swift!

Hana’s husband called my phone shortly after but I was in the middle of a conference call. I called back and bam! a pair of tickets to watch Taylor Swift in a few hours’ time. I quickly told my mother-in-law to stop cooking. My wife was like, this really sounds like that song “drop everything now”. I was like, yes, yes, let’s wrap up work and go! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, consider the fact that I can never get her tickets on my own.

Drop everything now, meet me in the pouring rain. Kiss me on the sidewalk, take away the pain. ~ “Spark Fly”.

The atmosphere at the stadium was amazing. There were so many people. Girls mostly dressed in red. Some with beautiful makeup and killer fashion. Some with red face paint. One dude was painting his girlfriend’s face with a lipstick, hers. There were parties outside the stadium. Taylor Swift music was blasting in the air (I know all her songs by heart). Long queues. In retrospect, if there was no standing area, why the need to queue?

A popular place for selfies.

The ticket said 7.30pm. With such a huge crowd, we expected delay. There was a local band opening the show at around 8pm. They were pretty good with the cover music. 8.30-ish, a large shadow appeared behind a huge red curtain that covered the stage. The fans went crazy. Taylor Swift has made an appearance. The curtain was drawn. The stage was unveiled. So was Taylor Swift.

I have watched her Speak Now World Tour Live on blu-ray. I know she performs well on stage. I was half expecting a dumb down version of what could have been a grand tour. Face it. Here in Singapore, most Western artists would give a halfhearted one hour straight show with nothing fancy. One year, Avril has brought in some dancers. We thoroughly enjoyed that show. Thereafter, it is just she and her band. Maybe the revenue from a relatively small venue doesn’t justify the cost of production.

For Taylor Swift’s Red Tour here in Singapore, the production is amazing. The sound was great. There was a huge ultra high definition screen showing Taylor Swift live on close-up augmented with various different visual effects that compliment the show. The last time I saw something this grand – visually speaking – was back in UK, Pink Floyd. The stage and the props were interesting. She has a team of dancers too. Every stare she made, every pose she made – all seem to be so well premeditated to entertain. She is either a natural or someone who works really hard to get everything right.

Either way, she is a great entertainer. What I really love about her show is that she made connection with the audience. She introduced her songs, she spoke about her songwriting process. She even shared with us that her mother was grown up in Singapore. Finally, someone gets it. We understand English here in Singapore. I often cringe when Western artists keep on saying “Hello Singapore” throughout the show. As though these were the two English words we could understand.

She plays various musical instruments. From piano to guitar. Towards the end of the show, she made her way through the crowd, shook the hands, and onto the second platform where the sound engineers were. Playing acoustic version of some of her songs, she danced too on that stage and got all of us on our feet, before making her way back to the main stage.

Beyond the glamour and the entertainment, deep inside Taylor Swift is a young talented songwriting and singer. She sang perfectly throughout the one-and-a-half hours concert, having some big moments that blew the roof off the stadium. I have watched quite a few live concerts, local and abroad. Taylor Swift The Red Tour is one of the best there is.

Singapore Indoor Stadium - Taylor Swift The Red Tour

I took this picture using my phone as we waited for the show to start.

CMT Crossroads Taylor Swift & Def Leppard (1998) / RED Taylor Swift (2012)

Once fine day, I saw a video clip posted by one of the Google+ users featuring Taylor Swift and Def Leppard performing Hysteria.  That electrifying performance is tantalizing in so many different ways.  First, as a huge fan of Def Leppard, to be able to see them perform live at this age, I mean, these guys still have it.  They still rock.  Later on, I read that Taylor Swift did this Crossroads collaboration partly because her mother is a big fan of Def Lepard.  That is kind of sweet of her.  Second, as you may have already known, I am a mega fan of Taylor Swift.  I am keen to see what the outcome of this collaboration would be, between a classic band like Def Leppard and a successful young female artist Taylor Swift one generation apart whereby the only commonality is the pop genre.

The main presentation has a total of eight songs.  Four tracks are from Def Lappard namely Photograph, Hysteria, When Love & Hate Collide, and Pour Some Sugar on Me.  Another four are Taylor Swift’s Picture to Burn, Love Story, Teardrops on My Guitar, and Should’ve Said No.  In addition, as bonus materials, there are three more tracks: Love, Our Song, and the all acoustic Two steps behind.

All the songs are nicely done.  Joe Elliott and Taylor Swift duet on each other’s songs.  Two bands are merged, very much like jamming on stage.  While I love all the tracks on this recording, When Love & Hate Collide and Teardrops on My Guitar stand out as my favorite tracks.  Interlaced onto the live performance is a set of interview that lends insight on the musical journey of both artists.  What a gem this DVD is.

RED

I wasn’t too sure if I would love Taylor Swift’s fourth album RED.  But I have a high level of anticipation nonetheless.  I like her country root.  Over the year, she seems to have spilled over to the pop genre.  When We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together first debuted on Google Hangout, I wasn’t sure what to make out of it.  That song does grow on me over time, like the rest of RED.  One good thing about her experimental journey in collaborating with other artists such as Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol is that it shows a different side of her.  A sign of growth and maturity, which in turn influences her own production.

My favorite tracks though as the ones written by her in entirety.  As well as All Too Well that is co-written with Liz Rose.  The Liz Rose and Taylor Swift collaboration has produced 16 songs including White Horse, Teardrops on My Guitar, and You Belong with Me.  I am hoping for more like these in the future.

Has anyone managed to crack the codes in her lyrics by picking out all the oddly capitalized letters?  I have tried but have given up.

Taylor Swift · World Tour Live · Speak Now – A Must Have!

Everybody loves Taylor Swift.  Even those who have not heard of her before instantly fall in love when I play her concert recording at my home.  Including my 2 years old niece who clapped and danced and looked merry and gay.  The most amazing thing is that Taylor Swift was only 21 when she performed the Speak Now World Tour.  She looks very young on camera.  But she has the maturity and musical ability to pull through 18 songs.  A rather lengthy performance if you take into account of the choreography on various stage settings as well.

The bottom line is, by now, with three solid albums, she has more than enough songs to entertain.  Taylor has won awards, broken records and her success factors beside being very pleasant to look at: she writes good songs and sings them well.  She writes songs that are personal and yet, to her surprise, fans can relate.  She writes songs that are meaningful to the youth without an element of angst that may displease the parents.  She has a clean outlook, unlike some of her peer pop musicians.  Her root, I would say, is country.  That is what I gathered when I heard her first album.  I guess in time, all [popular] things transform into pop.  How powerful it is to sing country songs (that in general are more meaningful) in a pop fashion.

There are so-so artists who stand on the same spot throughout the show performing as though they are recording an album.  And there are artists like Taylor Swift who covers the entire stage and beyond, played different instruments in different arrangements.  She incorporated some cover songs into hers as well.  The performance is stellar.  As for the bonus materials, there is a rehearsal recording and there is also a heartwarming home movie.  My only tiny complain is that unlike the US version, this local version is purely a Blu-ray disc without the CD.  The DVD version though comes with a CD.  But who buys DVD these days when there is a better format out there?

There are not many live recordings I would want to have a repeated watch.  This one, I have already watched twice.

Taylor Swift – Fearless – Less of Country and More of Pop This Time

Taylor Swift, Fearless

It is easy to forget that onto the second album, Taylor Swift is only 19 years old.  17 when she first released her debut that in my previous review, I have strong belief in her potential.  In 2006, she topped the US Country chart while attaining a 5th on the US Billboard 200.  “Fearless” topped all the major charts in US and Canada, which comes as a surprise to me in some sense, not a surprise in another.

Personally I prefer her debut “Taylor Swift” to “Fearless”.  I am in love with the song “Teardrops On My Guitar” and “Tim McGraw”.  The lyrics of her previous album are more emotional, the country ambiance blends well with her young sweet voice.  Her level of maturity exhibited in “Taylor Swift” fools me in believing that she is older than what she seems.  In “Fearless”,  the country sound is much toned down and her song topics while still evolve around love relationship of a young girl now go into the hearts of the mid teens such as the song “Fifteen”.

“Fearless” is a pleasant album to listen to.  No, there is no “Teardrops On My Guitar”.  What comes close, to me, is “You’re Not Sorry”.  Needless to say, the country-heavy upbeat “You Belong With Me” is another favorite track.  “Fearless” is a pop album with a tint of country flavor.  Taylor Swift may have overstretched her voice in some parts of the song and perhaps, it is this sense of genuine approach that draws the crowd.  It takes three consecutive solid albums – in my book – to have me converted into a loyal fan.  And I have high hope for her next album.

Speaking as such, in the name of Country, I have high hope for Carrie Underwood‘s third album too.  Below is the official video of one of Taylor Swift’s singles from this new album, “Love Story”.