Friday night in Baton Rouge, superstar Taylor Swift returned for her second appearance in LSU’s Tiger Stadium.
“Well, hi, my name is Taylor, and I love the sight of a 50,000-person stadium in Baton Rouge,” Swift said after the first two songs of the evening.
Opening songs — “Welcome to New York,” a pop empowerment anthem, and the lush “New Romantics” — set the tone for the two-hour, effects-filled production.
“This is actually the very first stadium show on the ‘1989’ U.S. tour,” Swift told her cheering crowd.
The star’s audience consisted overwhelmingly of teen girls, many of whom attended in groups, and younger girls who held their mothers’ hands as they walked through the packed stadium.
Following Swift’s Wednesday arena show at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, the Baton Rouge show is, just as Swift said, the first stadium show of her “1989” tour.
Being in Tiger Stadium again may have been a bit déjà vu for the singing star. In 2010, before her official move to pop music in 2014, Swift headlined the first Bayou Country Superfest there.
“I’m Taylor,” she said in 2010. “This is the very first time in my life I have ever headlined a stadium.”
This year, Swift’s standalone Friday show in Tiger Stadium precedes this weekend’s Superfest.
Swift was a major act in 2010, but her star has only risen since then. “1989,” released in September, has sold more than 4 million copies. Swift’s total album sales exceed 40 million albums. Just last weekend, she won eight trophies at the sales-driven Billboard Music Awards.
In Tiger Stadium, there was no indication that stardom has gone to the singer’s head. She talked to her fans as if she and they were best girlfriends. There was a lot of sharing, by Swift and her fans.
“It’s really very nice of you that you decided to sell it out and 50,000 of you wanted to be here with me on a Friday night,” Swift said. “You guys are very, very welcoming. You always have been, and that’s why I love coming back to see you.”
Fans shouted and screamed their love for the singer. Many of them held handmade signs high. The stage’s massive video screens captured images of the fans and the signs for all to see.
Swift concentrated on songs from “1989.” In concert, the songs had the same well-crafted pop gloss heard on the album.
Swift sang and acted the songs, enhancing the performances with gestures and poses. She marched or sashayed on the long catwalk, sometimes in sleek cat suits (one black and another of glittering silver).
The show featured many costumes, most of which glittered. The flashy costumes showed much more skin than the comparatively demure attire Swift wore in Tiger Stadium in 2010.
Eleven nimble, high-energy male dancers joined on Swift stage, sometimes with props. The dancers wielded glowing umbrellas for the seamless, breezy pop of “How You Get the Girl.” They wheeled 11 doors on wheels out for “I Know Places.”
The show also featured a long horizontal crane that lifted and turned her and the dancers above the crowd on the stadium floor.
Just a few older songs made Friday’s set list. For one of them, Swift strapped on an electric guitar for the first and only time during the concert, for a toughened up, rock version of her older hit “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” She folded another older song, “Enchanted,” into a dreamy romantic medley with “1989’s” “Wildest Dreams.”
In addition to Swift’s time outs from music to talk to fans, there was more talk in videos featuring the singer’s celebrity friends. Too much talk, but “Girls” star Lena Dunham brought some funny lines to the sometimes unfocused commentaries.
“I’m surprised that when she (Swift) walks down the street, stray cats don’t come walking towards her, because she’s the patron saint of cats,” Dunham says.
Swift mentioned that Mayor-President Kip Holden proclaimed Friday Taylor Swift Day in Baton Rouge.
“He also told me I get to be mayor for the day,” she said. “If I was mayor, I would say, like, you all have to admit that cats are the best animals. Other than, of course, tigers!”
All 11 dancers and Swift, dressed in glittering green fringe, sang, danced and shook their way through “Shake It Off.” Accompanied by fireworks, that ended the show on a high-energy, crowd-rousing note.
“I love you Baton Rouge,” Swift said as she and her “1989” cast took one of their show-concluding, mass bows.