From sequins and special effects to surprise songs, Taylor's euphoric 45-song set was a musical journey that transcended time and space.

It’s been a long time coming. Six simple words when read alone, but when pooled together, the magnitude and impact of the phrase is enough to unite a stadium of 70,000 people, bound by their immeasurable devotion, respect, and love for arguably the greatest artist of our generation. It’s a sentence that proves in every sense of the saying that actions speak louder than words, because it’s the first line that Taylor Swift sings to her fanbase after a five-year touring hiatus, a canceled Lover Fest due to the global pandemic, three new albums, and two re-recorded records. It’s been a long time coming, indeed.


The next line Swift croons from her opening ballad “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” is “It’s you and me, that’s my whole world.” If you’re shaking in your bright pink cowboy boots, don’t worry, so am I (and so is the city of Seattle, – if you know, you know). Because behind all the bright lights, viral moments, Versace blazers, and billions of economy-saving dollars, at the end of the day, Swift’s whole world is really all about the uniquely symbiotic relationship she shares with her fans. 


The intensely gratifying feeling of knowing you’re seen, heard, understood, and validated by Swift is a gift that she’s blessed her community with for decades, with The Eras Tour serving as the final destination, a carefully curated celebration of the memories made, both by Swift and her fandom, that have been narrated by a lyricist whose talents know no bounds. The three-and-a-half-hour set (a clear sign that Swift wholeheartedly respects the time, energy, money, and effort her people put into coming to see her) is a series of nostalgic moments that felt therapeutic, healing, heartwarming, and empowering, because not only has Swift reclaimed her past and moved fearlessly and dauntlessly into the future, but so have her fans. And so have I. As I watched the Grammy-winner sing “Fearless,” hand-heart raised in the sky like a call to arms, I was reminded of my 15-year-old self, listening to the track on repeat the morning after I had my first kiss. When the hollow words of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)(Taylor’s Version)(From The Vault)” pierced the stadium walls, I thought how badly I needed that song when the same boy who kissed me shattered my heart, and that’s all I cared about in my teenage life. But then when Swift finally gave us “Midnight Rain” in the closing set, everything made sense.

The dichotomy of Swift’s early career ballads, compared to lyrics as complex and unapologetically honest as, “He wanted it comfortable, I wanted that pain. He wanted a bride, I was making my own name” speaks to the journey that both Swift and her followers have faced. Because though my high school self was pulled toward Swift’s innate ability to pair words with my overwhelming emotions of heartache and hurt, as I matured into an adult and began prioritizing my friendships and professional endeavors just the same, I’ve grown to admire Swift’s seemingly paralleling journey. Because watching the record-shattering artist *quite literally* climb the corporate ladder on behalf of all of us during her performance of “The Man,”I felt proud to be in that audience, proud to be a Swift supporter, and grateful to the woman who has always and effortlessly provided a voice for the voiceless, and unknowingly narrated so many defining moments of my life. 


Standing in the Santa Clara audience – in row 13, seat 13, might I add – was an experience defined by reflection, gratitude, and sheer euphoria. I’ve never missed a Swift concert since her Fearless tour, and over the past five years, I’ve missed her terribly. And it was clear as daylight (yes, pun intended) that she missed us too. Equating The Eras Tour to a concert is a dig at The Eras Tour, because the 45-song set was far more than that. It was a musical journey that transcended time and space. It was a spiritual experience, a giant dance party, a group therapy session, a whimsical dream, a history lesson, a handmade gift 17 years in the making, and a commemoration of women’s empowerment all at once. It was fireworks (all hail Mayor Taylor), special effects (we’re talking autumn leaves falling down followed by the first fall of snow), evident intimacy in a stadium of 70,000 in which Swift spoke to us as if we were chatting on Tumblr, jaw-dropping grooves and bike riding and chair dancing, surprise songs (sitting 20 feet from Swift singing “All Of The Girls You Loved Before” altered my brain chemistry for the better), sentimental costumes ranging over a decade of musical genius, and lots of custom Christian Louboutins. It was Swift doing what she does best – owning her past, taking autonomy of her future, and honoring every part of the journey. It was the Story of Us – Swift and her steadfast support system. And we will be remembered.

Listen to The Eras setlist:

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