Taylor Swift builds a reputation on Netflix
The sixth album from Pennsylvanian singer-songwriter, pop music megalodon, and all-round icon, Taylor Swift, received a few mixed reviews. But does she care? Quite possibly not. This resulting tour of the record, reputation, has become the highest-grossing tour in US history, bringing in an eye-watering $266.1 million from 36 dates; and it’s also resulted in one of the most hyped-concert films ever, with Netflix filming across the final two US dates of the tour at the gargantuan AT&T Stadium in Texas.
Firstly — what are the implications of streaming industry leaders Netflix becoming more heavily involved in the music industry? Well, all extra money going into the industry is always a welcome thing, and as concerts such as this one often price people out, it’s positive that people can see these concerts, albeit you can never truly replace being there in person. However, the reputation film is filmed in such an immersive way, it’s not as far off from the real experience as you might expect. One can only hope that Netflix will begin to work with artists below the Swift and Timberlake level, after the roaring success of these concert films.
But back to the concert film in question — which opens with the same video montage that the Texans are treated to in person. A compilation of audio clips of gossip show hosts being needlessly negative about Ms Swift, the kind of celebrity that keeps them in a job. The film intro concludes by panning up behind a female figure (no prizes for guessing who), sending the sold-out 105,002-strong crowd into raptures, as their heroine slowly turns her head to face them.
Said rapture only increases as the speakers belt out cries of 'let the games begin', announcing tonight’s opener is... Ready For It?, which couldn’t be any more aptly titled in this context. A decidedly sparkly and sequined Swift appears on stage, and the first three songs on the set list come from the tour’s namesake album — second is the excellent I Did Something Bad, one of the highlights of the set, certainly from a choreography standpoint.
Song no.4 turns out to be three songs, the first medley of the night — fairly commonplace these days when a megastar has a lot of material to cram into one set. It euphorically brings together 1989’s Style, and Fearless’ Love Story, and You Belong With Me. During the medley, Swift brings her band down from the almost Rammstein-esque stage production to the several stages that spread out into the audience, to get them fully acquainted with her fans.
The next portion of the set is segued by a montage that creepily shows Swift’s transformation from girl-next-door country girl, to the more gothic proposition of the reputation era. Which of course means it’s time for Look What You Made Me Do. It also means it’s time for the night’s first costume change (Tay-Tay goes all pharaoh on us), more royalties for Right Said Fred, and a giant, genuinely frightening inflatable cobra rises up on stage.
As Swift launches into End Game, you could forgive the audience for expecting her good friend Ed Sheeran to walk out on stage. One reputation Taylor Swift certainly has is to bring out all manner of musical guests and celebrity cameos at her shows, but tonight that is toned-down. However, support acts Charli XCX and Camillo Cabello do get to come out and join in for mega-hit Shake It Off.
It’s a very impressive vocal performance, with Swift not putting a note wrong all evening, and sounding as good as ever on Blank Space and Bad Blood, the latter ending with a very pleasing keyboard solo. As for the film itself, it’s a real feat of a cinematic concert experience — incredible shots that pan across the stages, some excellent use of slow-motion, and a depth that gives great justice to the sea of over 100,000 people spread throughout the AT&T stadium.
There’s always time for one more medley, and this time it’s one that fully splices together We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. We now have a good two-hours of evidence that Swift is one of the most talented songwriters currently alive. And at this final point of the evening, there is now an 18th century-style fountain on the stage (why wouldn’t there be?). Swift blows a kiss as a piece of the stage takes her away in true superstar style, setting up for a delightfully rock and roll finish as the band rinse the concluding chord for all it's worth with guitar solos and embellishments.
Take a break from Black Mirror, Narcos, etc., and put this triumphant concert experience at the top of your list.
Review by Adam Protz