Friday night saw thousands of Taylor Swift fans swarm the streets of Dublin for her Reputation Stadium Tour, the first of two nights being played at the infamous Croke Park.
First to the stage in Swift’s all female line up was Charli XCX, who performed with boundless energy from start to finish. Beginning her set with “Boom Clap” the English singer was the perfect show opener, her electropop hits such as “Boys” and “I Love It” bringing the crowd to their feet despite having only just found their seats. “Best crowd yet, I promise!” she exclaimed, before ending on “Fancy,” her popular collaboration with Iggy Azalea.
Next on the bill was Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello, who opened with single “Never Be the Same” from her debut album Camila. “Are you guys excited to be at the Reputation tour?” she asked the audience, before launching into catchy hit “She Loves Control,” a clear favourite with the crowd. The singer then chose to slow things down and showcase her muscial talent, bringing a piano on stage. She asked, “Have any of you guys been in love before?” before breaking into “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley and transitioning into “Consequences,” from her debut album. After this more subdued moment Cabello brought her dancers back on stage and ended on “Havana.” Cabello’s powerful vocals and slick performance did the trick, with the crowd out of their seats and dancing along, suitably warmed up for the main act to follow.
The mainstage, made up mostly of two one hundred foot screens lit up with Taylor Swift’s Reputation album cover whilst “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts began to play. The screens then displayed a montage of news bulletins pertaining to Swift and the stories that have surrounded her over the years, reverberating through the stadium. This was the start of a theme that would underpin the whole show, and Taylor Swift executes it with tremendous effect.
The bass thundered through Croke Park as Taylor Swift entered the stage and opened her set with “…Ready For It?” from Reputation. This began a spectacle of a show that was split into six acts. Whilst the majority of the setlist was from Reputation, Swift made sure to end each act with older material, to the delight of the audience. Old favourites such as “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” were knitted together in a medley, a clever move ensuring older material was touched upon but the show was mainly focused on her latest release and it’s respective message.
Before the end of Act One the singer took a moment to address the crowd, reflecting on the opportunity she had been given to play a venue of roughly seventy thousand people. “The fact that we get to play for this beautiful, passionate, generous crowd tonight, my very first Irish Stadium tour, with women I love so much…This is a really important moment in my life,” she mused.
A quick change later and Swift and her dancers were back on stage for Act Two, launching into “Look What You Made Me Do.” The production for this act was extravagant, with no expense being spared on a giant snake gracing the stage. The imagery of the snake is a clever attempt by Swift to take ownership of the name given to her by Kanye West and the social media storm that ensued back in 2016. The snake imagery continues throughout the rest of the show, often in smaller details such as Taylor carrying a microphone with a bejewelled snake coiled around it.
“You worry that because of a bad reputation you might miss out on the opportunity to find something real, like love or friendship,” explained the singer, before singing new track “Delicate.” At this point Swift climbed into a small platform that was suspended over the arena, using this a means to transport herself to two smaller stages at the back of the stadium. This gave fans at the back an opportunity to get closer to the singer, and the crowd could barely contain their excitement. Charli XCX and Camila Cabello then joined Taylor at the back of the stadium to sing “Shake it Off.” This was a highlight of the show, the energy in the stadium was electric and everyone was out of their seats.
Swift then opted to slow things down, taking the opportunity to perform with just her guitar. “There’s something about an Irish crowd that’s at a volume you just dont hear,” she exclaimed, before adding that she was excited to play acoustically and get the full effect of the crowd. Playing “Dancing With Our Hands Tied,” from Reputation and older song “Mean,” the singer displayed her vocal talent and musicality that may sometimes now be disregarded due to such large production in her shows. Back on the main stage Swift did this again when she brought out a piano and played “New Years Day” from Reputation and “Long Live” from Speak Now, a nice surprise for fans of her older material.
The final act of the show was a highlight, with the singer ending on a mash up of new song “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” and older hit “We Are Never Getting Back Together.” Fireworks, confetti and a large water fountain on stage was quite a spectacle, not to mention the large troupe of dancers and visuals. It’s worth mentioning that Taylor Swift has obviously put time into her own performance skills, as she has previously been criticised for appearing ‘awkward’ when performing. No fault could be found in her showmanship, as she held her own amongst her very talented dancers for the span of the show.
As Swift and her entourage left the stage, the screen lit up with a final message and a parting thought for the crowd – “And in the death of her reputation she felt truly alive.”