LIVE REVIEW: Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers, Gayle in Foxborough, MA (05.20.23)
Photo: TAS Rights Management
Due to New England’s cold winter climate and the stadium’s far proximity to the city, it’s unlikely Foxbourough will ever play host to a Super Bowl. Regardless, it’s not hard to imagine atmosphere around there would be like if it did; all you needed to do was visit the stadium this past weekend when the world’s hottest tour rolled in for three sold out shows, The Eras Tour. You’ve seen it all over just about every social media platform. It’s the tour of Taylor Swift’s lifetime and no one should be shocked that it was a flawless performance from beginning to end.
It all kicked off with next-big-thing Gayle who gave a short but sweet set filled with good crowd interaction. A symbol of empowerment, she wow’d the audience as they filled into the stadium and ending the set on her smash, “acdefu”. Another beautiful moment in her set was during “Don’t Call Me Pretty” which was prefaced by Gayle saying, “You can call me pretty, but not just pretty.” Gayle set the tone for an evening filled with female empowerment on an all-women tour.
Shortly after, to the tune of Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness,” Phoebe Bridgers and her band took the stage to cheers of “Phoebe!” which were never ending through her entire performance. Back in the day, Bridgers first played now closed Great Scott in Boston and while Bridgers excels in small spaces, Bridgers has quickly mastered the arena performance. From stellar performances of her opener track, “Motion Sickness” to much loved “Kyoto”, off her Grammy nominated album, “Punisher”. She and her band were unblemished during their 40 min set. Bridgers charmed the crowd, from her constant smiles to the delicate black bow wrapped around her hair. With witty quips to the audience like, “Does anyone here actually live in Foxborough?” to her monologue with the crowd about dads that ended with, “Where are the dads out there?” and after a practically deafening roar, simply going “big yikes.”
Fans of Bridgers were clearly in attendance. Several were singing their hearts out to moments like “Funeral”. Which was introduced by Bridgers saying, “This one is super about when I couldn’t get out of bed like ever, but then I got better.” Which of course, incited big cheer from the crowd in support. On her final song “I Know the End” Bridgers invited the stadium to scream as loud as they could, as is customary in every set she plays.
Finally the act everyone was waiting for. Miss Swift herself. The crowd of 65, 000+ exploded with joy the second that the first dancer hit the stage. After the opener track, “Miss Americana and The Heartbreak Prince” quickly segueing into “Cruel Summer” she immediately took command making her first interaction with the crowd, “Are you ready for the first rain-soaked bridge?” and it was on from there. Never leaving the stage for more than 90 seconds, despite the monsoon, Swift and her excellent team glistened (while fans clad in ponchos all looked like something out of The Handmaiden’s Tale.
Swift jumped around albums going into the shimmery Fearless era. Performing the title-track, “You Belong With Me,” and “Love Story” all from the end of the stage with very little production as if still in her early days before becoming a global superstar.
As Swift curved her way through softer moments like those found in Evermore, with production straight out of a Broadway play, such as a staged dinner with a lover on “Tolerate It.”
Swift made a short but sweet visit to the Speak Now era performing “Enchanted” which recently saw a resurgence in popularity due to TikTok. The magical production on that one seemed to deliver an answer to the question what would Taylor Swift look like re-imagined as a princess in a Disney movie?
The fiery Reputation era portion of the set initially featured choreography by her dancers on stage, and later visuals of Swift’s looks during the entirety of her career. All of it would build up to the point in “Look What You Made Me Do” where she exuberantly delivers the lyrics The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now/ why? / Oh, cause she’s dead! while the crowd belted out the same lyrics so loud that 65,000 sounded 100,000.
While continuing to mesmerize she through the next album during which Phoebe Bridgers would return to the stage for “Nothing New” which Bridgers is featured on the Taylor’s Version of Red, Swift capped off the Red era with perhaps the indelible moment of the night just her playing a single acoustic guitar for the ten minute version of “All Too Well” at point when the rain almost felt as if it were planned as part of the production. .
To the creation of Folklore the, according to Swift, “House of my dreams that I built here in Foxborough”, the theatrical rendition of “The Last Great American Dynasty” to with “My Tears Richochet” being this solemnly beautiful moment with her dancers clad in full length sleeve jeweled black dresses.
With 1989, in a green shimmery two piece putting on a crush worthy performance of “Style.” Followed by some of her most recognized hits “Blank Space” and “Shake it Off.” Swift personalized in the set in several charming moments but a particularly hilarious one was when she got to the surprise songs of her set and was comically sweeping the rain off her piano with her hands before jumping into “Invisible”.
And of course the finale of the tour came with moments off her most recent effort, Midnights, From the incredible rendition of “Lavender Haze” to fans yelling Taylor’s name as she broke into “Vigilante Shit” the soaked and tired fans showed no signs of wear. Her set concluded with “Karma,” the track on which she collaborated with Britney Spears and Jack Antonoff among others.
Overall, The Eras Tour is something historic, the level of hype was at a fever pitch by the end of the week in Massachusetts as every local news station had a live report from the stadium and some had helicopters capturing aerial shots. As someone who has attended championship games for two professional sports leagues, the Eras tour blew both those away. The spectacle alone is worth coming out for, even the crowd outside the stadium who couldnt get tickets showed up in hoards to sing along. But for true Swifties it is the experience of a lifetime. The kind of tour that will one day be remembered in the esteemed immortal company of tours such as Michael Jackson’s Bad Tour or The Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour.