Review: Taylor Swift at 3Arena


After last night’s explosive return to Dublin’s 3Arena, Taylor Swift’s near-perfect live show proves why she’s music’s reigning queen of pop.


Taylor’s Swifties came out in their droves to Dublin’s 3Arena last night for the first of two completely sold out “if you didn’t get a ticket six months ago then tough luck” shows for her 1989 World Tour.

There was her teenage girl contingent, her mid-twenties contemporaries who see her as their celeb best friend – who, of course, dragged their “bored” boyfriends. The youngest of the Taylor super fans came out with their homemade 1989 t-shirts, clutched to their enduring Dads and intermittently straddling their shoulders to catch a glimpse of their idol.

Following a pretty lackluster set from support artist Vance Joy, Taylor appeared from the stage riser in front of a New York skyline backdrop while the opening chords from 1989’s opening banger, Welcome To New York rang out (at exactly 8.45PM – Taylor ain’t tardy). By the second chorus even those Dads and boyfriends were mouthing every word. At testament to her absolute smash of a pop album which is littered with earworming pop hooks.

Without taking a breath, Taylor blasted into the ode to her 20s, New Romantics, followed by bona fide super hit Blank Space – before treating longtime fans with haunting reworking of I Knew You Were Trouble from her 2012 album RED.

Older fans might have been disappointed with the lack of classic Taylor tracks. Her impressive and expansive back catalogue (at the age of 25, no less) means there simply was no time to treat fans to hits like 22, Mean, You Belong With Me and Teardrops On My Guitar. But where would they even fit? Impressively, she reworked her breakout hit Love Story from a country ballad into a synth pop anthem to fit the 1980s motif.

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Her departure from the country songwriter persona of her late teens meant that old tracks just stick out like a sore thumb and don’t reconcile with her neon light show, geometric high contrast visuals and sporadic soundbites from her supercool celeb girl squad.

The likes of Haim, Selena Gomez, Cara Delevingne and Lena Dunham appeared on screens between songs talking about their friendship with TayTay – but we know all about it from their Instagrams, am I right? Danielle Haim proclaiming that Taylor was like the sister she never had (next to the other pissed off Haim sisters) got a few laughs, while Girls creator Lena Dunham canonises her as The Patron Saint of Cats and Cara Delevingne adding that her apartment was like a kitty headquarters.

The whole show is everything you’d expect from Taylor “I’m just one of you” Swift – but at no point did it feel contrived. Her connection with the audience was undoubted and she was ever present. She more than lived up to her media persona and felt entirely human. Which is refreshing for someone as engrossed in the limelight as she is. Extended song introductions turned into inspirational speeches about accepting and loving yourself, while she ranted about how sometimes “love is complicated” as if she was just a gal pal. Of course, her relationship problems don’t centre around someone she met on Tinder, but the likes of Harry Styles and Calvin Harris. Go figures.

In one word? Taylor’s show was really fucking cool. Production values of the show far exceeded those of other young pop stars on the scene, and must have cost her team a pretty penny. But money well spent. Swifties were given radio controlled LED wristbands on the door – which turned the 13,000 into a huge part of the light show itself. The entire arena goes pitch black and the stage dead silent. Red lasers illuminate the stage and the thousands of revelers turn into a galaxy of human spot lights before the lights go up and and smoke cannons erupt along with an opening chorus of Bad Blood. To no one’s surprise, Taylor ended her explosive set with last year’s comeback megahit Shake It Off, belted from a floating revolving catwalk stage.

Long gone are the golden ringlets, sparkly guitars and country sensibilities that shot a young Taylor to the spotlight. Long live the new queen of pop.

Don’t agree? Well …

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