Taylor Swift closed the 2023 US leg of her landmark Eras Tour on Wednesday (Aug 9) night in Los Angeles in a big way, announcing the fourth edition of her re-recording project: 1989 (Taylor’s Version).
After playing a few tracks from her 1989 era live, including an abridged take on Bad Blood, the pop superstar approached the centre of the stage with an acoustic guitar in hand and suggested to the audience that she had been working on something big.
“Instead of just, like, telling you about it, I think I’ll just sort of show you,” she told the crowd as the screen illuminated behind her. “1989 (Taylor’s Version) available Oct 27!” she cheered, pointing out that she was revealing this on the eighth month of the year and the ninth day – a numerical clue.
Then she launched into a surprise performance of the ascendant 1989 track New Romantics and the Reputation-era piano ballad New Year’s Day for the first time during her world tour.
Just last month, Swift released her re-recording of Speak Now and soon claimed the record for the woman with the most No 1 albums in history. The “Taylor’s Version” projects were sparked by music manager Scooter Braun’s purchase and subsequent sale of her early catalogue.
Beyond the breaking news, across more than three-and-a-half hours at SoFi Stadium, Swift offered fans a bevy of career-spanning tracks – less a greatest hits collection, and more a live celebration of an artist in her veterancy.
Choreographed Easter eggs were frequent. Swift would mimic dance moves from her iconic music videos and crack jokes about her feelings and “women-splaining to men how to apologise to women”.
Openers – and “besties”, as Swift described them – HAIM joined her on stage for the evermore cut no body, no crime.
Across more than 40 tracks reflecting 17 years of recorded music, it was as if the ground shook with the rapturous sound of 70,000 fans scream-singing along to her hits and deep cuts alike. This was Taylor Swift’s house – filled with fans in light Taylor Swift cosplay (pink dresses for her 2019 album Lover, black leather and snakeskin prints for 2017’s Reputation, sequins and A-line skirts for 2014’s 1989, and so on).
Before launching into her 1989 era tracks, Swift performed an emotive single from her folkore album, cardigan. “When you are young, they assume you know nothing,” she sang, contorting the line in the third verse, “I knew everything when I was young.”
For a performance predicated on returning to the past as well as celebrating the present, it felt like a mission statement. Throughout her career and her many sonic experiments, Swift has been a keen observer of human condition and heartbreak. Even in those early songs about fantasies and fairytales, she demonstrates a kind of pragmatic wisdom. It is why a song she wrote when she was 16 can elicit the same sort of response as one written in her 30s.
And in a summer stacked with superstar tours celebrating giant new releases – like the larger-than-life experiences of Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour and Drake’s 56-date It Was All A Blur tour – Taylor Swift’s lookback Eras Tour stands proudly among them.
For fans who desire their beloved artist play the hits – she certainly delivered.