Review: Taylor Swift @ MCG (Melbourne)

Taylor Swift played MCG (Melbourne) 16 February, 2024 - image © TAS-Rights-Management
Bron is a Melbourne-based science journalist who loves to return 'home' to a band room any chance she gets. She has 25 years' experience and has worked for Rolling Stone, Blunt, The Sydney Morning Herald, JUICE and many more.

If you'd somehow managed to miss the news Taylor Swift was in town this week (unlikely), the sea of sequins, cowboy boots and tassels that painted a rainbow through Melbourne's CBD and surrounding suburbs certainly gave it away.

As did the collective anticipation and excitement for fans who managed to secure perhaps the hottest concert ticket in history.

It's not the first time this reviewer has seen Swift at a cricket arena – she played charity gig Sound Relief in 2009, the singer still a teenager, playing an early afternoon set to a few hundred people who were only casually aware of her.

Fast-forward 15 years and you'd have to have been in a coma for the past 12 months to not know of her star's ascension to perhaps the most famous artist on the planet.

Taylor Swift.2
Image © TAS-Rights-Management

Not surprisingly, fans of all ages who had fought hard to secure a ticket to the first night of the Eras show in Australia (16 February) were in seats and on the floor early, not risking missing a single note; and when the moment came, the roar of the crowd let people in neighbouring suburbs let it know it was time.

After witnessing some impressive Test Match wickets and goals kicked at a packed MCG, I thought I'd heard the thunderous arena at its loudest – but I was wrong – and it was a sound that was sustained for much of the impressive three-and-a-half hours.

The Eras tour has been a music and cultural phenomenon, making Swift a billionaire along the way. For most people in attendance, it was more than just a concert; it's the culmination of a journey and of growth, for both Swift and her fans.

Taylor Swift.3
Image © TAS-Rights-Management

With a fairly concrete set list that has a couple of changes each night, and one well known by fans thanks to a movie release of the show a few months ago, it journeys through distinct Swift eras: 'Lover;', 'Fearless', 'Evermore', 'Reputation', 'Speak Now', 'Red', 'Folklore', '1989' and 'Midnights', all distinct in sound and style but all such special stages of a career that feels like it has been both building to this moment, yet has so much more to offer.

With each era came dazzling outfit and set changes – but that wasn't all. Each attendee got a flashing wristband, which changed colours to match the era being covered.

It's hard to imagine how that looked to Swift, who was standing in front of her biggest crowd ever, 96,000 people with 96,000 bright, flashing lights on their arms. It was absolutely mind-blowing to see from the dance floor.

There were many highlights – this well-polished show did not put a foot wrong, yet despite this it still felt fresh and authentic – but a few moments stood out.

Taylor Swift.4
Image © TAS-Rights-Management

The epic 'All Too Well (10 Minute Version)' from the 'Red' album reissue was incredible, the song a journey in itself, and the crowd singing along to every emotional word; the gritty, smouldering 'Look What You Made Me Do' from 'Reputation'; 'Evermore''s piano heartbreaker 'Champagne Problems' and 'Fearless' eternal banger, 'Love Story' (which most recently also plays a starring role in season two of 'The Bear').

Melbourne was treated to something special, too – the first time Swift has played 'You're Losing Me', which she dropped in 2023. The crowd understood the moment, too, as a hushed arena listened to the downtempo piano tune the singer introduced as one of her favourites. Another surprise was the title track from 'Red', which she hasn't played live since May 2023.

The crowd was an absolute joy, spread across all age groups and plenty of mums and young daughters singing along.

Taylor Swift.5
Image © TAS-Rights-Management

While people have plenty opinions about Swift – some that are most definitely rooted in misogynistic and sexist structures that have never giving powerful women a free pass – there's a reason she has inspired the most devoted and passionate fans of any music artist today.

Tonight's show, while a stadium spectacular, still felt intimate and personal; super-stylised and rehearsed yet 'real'. And despite the marathon set, it also felt like it was over in a flash, as pyrotechnics and fireworks and confetti and flashing wrists framed a buoyant 'Karma' finale.

Wrists were still flashing as the crowd filed out and spread across the city, as train and tram sing-alongs with glittery strangers kept the magical night going a little bit longer.

By 10am the next day, the flashing wristband looked to be on its last legs, but the memory of being a part of the 'Eras' juggernaut will most certainly live on forever.

Taylor Swift.6
Image © TAS-Rights-Management

Let's Socialise

Facebook pink circle    Instagram pink circle    YouTube pink circle    YouTube pink circle

 OG    NAT

Twitter pink circle    Twitter pink circle