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Monday, October 16, 2023

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (2023)

Primary Disclaimer: I work for the company making the premium theater concession products. Also, if you need a lid for your cup, this video, and this one, may help you find one. They’re by Paige Ruth.

Secondary Disclaimer: I took my girlfriend to the IMAX screening, and she loved the show!

A few years ago, I said "two of the greatest gifts of college were swing dance lessons and a re-introduction to music." Four of the songs on rotation were covers off of 1989, and they were my semi-introduction to Taylor Swift. I tell people that I learned to dance to those songs, so I did not feel out of place and happily held my own while singing along with this boisterous crowd.

The audience, mostly comprised of girls and women, would make us Marvel fanboys blush with their energy. Even with the expected dancing, I was not ready for the theater to shake the way it did, but what do you expect when your favorite pop star is showing off her moves, and the camera is doing so much more than just keep up with her?

The Eras Tour is directed by Sam Wrench (Netflix’s Rhythm & Flow and Lizzo’s 2022 Live in Concert, and cut by a team of near-precise editors. It's rare that a shot feels jarring, but it does happen. Still, under Swift's show-running, something lively, dynamic, and unexpected is created. One of the best examples of this is during the Reputation segment. Performances are better adapted on-stage than on-film in their initial music videos. It's not a bare-bones approach, it's streamlined, and it plays better in Eras because it looks, please excuse me, less silly.

During 1989's "Blank Space," a car was projected onto the raised platform of the stage and synced to the lightsaber golf club smashing of your background dancers! The video may have been perfectly timed, or it was set to play sections as-needed. Essentially, if you aren't taken in by the music, you are by the gear-turning of the entire production. So let's start with one, and then go to the other.
Taylor Swift: Eras Tour Poster
"Larger Than Life" doesn't even account for the big screen and big crowd | Copyright Taylor Swift Productions, AMC Theaters, and Cinemark Theaters 2023

This woman is incredibly thankful that her fans have allowed her to genre-jump and evolve as an artist, and when she made that known someone sitting behind us gave an equally thankful, and slightly comedic, "you're welcome." It's given her a deep bench to pull from but with very few deep cuts, and that's such a tremendous asset for an artist. That's obviously part of the show, but for someone who has only heard some work passively, it's a treat to realize some of the work you know isn't from the album you thought it was, this song is actually about this topic, or that lyric is actually a metaphor.

Straight up, Taylor Swift can belt it incredibly well. As loud as we all got at times, it was still incredibly impressive, and it surprisingly shined through even more during the less up-beat tracks that we sat for. I just wish those were paced out better.

Near the end, the length could be felt, and while Eras finishes strong, the lulls are both noticeable and potentially avoidable. I just wonder if the concert would've worked better for some if Folklore and Evermore were put in-between other sections. Maybe tonal whiplash would cause different problems, but it's certainly something to think about and the only real knock against the film. Having said that, one of those two featured a forest-themed piano.

Folklore Piano
Folklore Piano | Via Vox and Her YouTube Channel

So stuff like that probably isn't new to most fans, but the production design is the surprise star of the show, so much of those details will be kept under wraps. Basically, we're talking about mini film sets that would typically be reserved for Halftime brought to the stage by, at least in part, production designer Ethan Tobman. They're what make the scale of this whole thing feel so great, and that's why it really felt like the best way to see it was from the front-row or onscreen. Again, all the spectacle of a Marvel movie, and more, despite the third act.

If you dropped right down to the score, please read the disclaimers at the top of the page

And a bonus  for a million little things, like the room Taylor gave her background performers to add so much more than "contractual work" to fill out the stage. It wouldn't be surprising to learn that some of them are also actors. A couple people I wanted to highlight, in close, are Kameron N. Saunders and Jan Ravnik...because I'm not the only one who mistook Ravnik for Oscar Isaac. And Isaac, or someone resembling him, automatically improves a movie or show.