It’s Been A Long Time Coming: Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” is a Life-Changing Experience

Jennifer Moglia, General Manager

In 50 years when I’m telling younger family members about what music was like when I was in my 20s, I have no doubt that “Taylor Swift” will be the first name to come out of my mouth. Sure, I might be biased because I’m a huge fan, but the impact she has had on the music industry and on the world cannot be overstated.

Starting out as a country singer in her teens, Swift’s masterful songwriting and uncanny ability to relate to so many different types of people helped her skyrocket in fame throughout the 2010s. Shifting flawlessly from country, to pop, to indie, and everywhere in between, her music is genre-bending and remains accessible to a variety of audiences.

Off the stage and outside of the recording studio, Swift has become a household name through movie roles, perfume lines, partnerships with brands like Capital One and Toms, and more. She’s so special to me, though, because she taught a generation of young women that it’s important to stand up for what you believe in no matter what others might say.

Swift famously sued a radio employee for a symbolic one dollar for inappropriately touching her, resulting in a trial back in 2017. She gave fans a look into her decision to publicly speak out against former President Donald Trump and name herself as an LGBTQIA+ ally in her 2020 documentary “Miss Americana” as well.

I could go on forever, but all of this is to say that Taylor Swift is not just a pop star to me or to just about anyone else in the world. She is one of the most prominent voices of the 2010s, making her first North American tour in five years, “The Eras Tour,” a monumental event.

Starting in mid-March, Swift has been playing a three-hour career-spanning set at stadiums across the country in iconic cities like Nashville, Atlanta, Chicago, and more. She has a stacked roster of openers coming along the way, including Paramore, Phoebe Bridgers, girl in red and more.

I got to attend her third show at MetLife Stadium on May 28, where Bridgers and OWENN were the opening acts. I fully embraced my inner fangirl by dressing up as my favorite Taylor Swift album, “Lover,” complete with a dress full of 3-D butterflies, a “13” temporary tattoo symbolizing Swift’s favorite number, and two arms full of homemade friendship bracelets ready to be traded with other fans.

Speaking of those friendship bracelets, I couldn’t be happier that they were a part of this tour cycle. Inspired by a line in “You’re On Your Own, Kid,” a fan-favorite from Swift’s most recent album “Midnights,” die-hard fans (also known as Swifties) have been making friendship bracelets inspired by their favorite songs, albums, lyrics, and more to share with other fans at each show.

I made 20 bracelets to trade and about 20 just for my friend and I to wear, and we started trading with people as soon as we got on the train on Long Island, hours away from the stadium and even more hours away from the show starting and our girl hitting the stage. We continued to trade on food and bathroom lines, with others in our section, and even just passing by people in the concourse. This activity made a typically anxiety-inducing day involving a large crowd into a heartwarming community-based event – it was simply amazing.

Our first opener was OWENN, a long-time friend of Swift’s. He performed with her as a lead dancer during her Reputation Stadium Tour in 2018, starred alongside her in the music video for “Lover” in 2019, and as if he couldn’t get more talented, he is a musical artist himself, opening for seven dates of The Eras Tour.

While I was still getting settled during his set, I was beyond impressed with OWENN’s energy and the response that he was evoking from fans throughout the stadium who may or may not have been familiar with him. Although I wasn’t a fan of his going into this show, I’ve checked out some of his music since and am definitely on the hype train now.

Of course, I was indescribably excited about Swift’s headlining set, but I was almost equally excited to see Phoebe Bridgers for the first time. I discovered her albums “Stranger in the Alps” and “Motion Sickness” as a senior in high school trying to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and her music means a lot to me.

I thought it was absolutely brilliant that Bridgers walked onto the stage to Disturbed’s nu-metal hit “Down With The Sickness” before opening the show with her most well-known song, a mellow ballad with heartwrenching lyrics, “Motion Sickness.” I’ve always admired the way that she is able to poke fun at herself, even in front of a stadium of over 80,000 fans.

The setlist included fan favorites like “Garden Song,” “Moon Song,” “Scott Street,” and my personal favorite, “Kyoto,” all of which were performed beautifully by her band, all wearing matching skeleton costumes. Bridgers’ third-to-last song each night of this tour was different every time, with fans nicknaming it as a “surprise song,” and I was beyond excited when she started playing “Waiting Room,” another one of my favorites, in this slot.

She closed her portion of the night with “Graceland Too” and “I Know The End,” two drastically different songs sonically, with similar lyrical themes of empowerment in times of despair. Bridgers mentioned at the end of her set that this would be the last show of her run supporting “Punisher,” leading fans to believe that she will be shifting her focus to her side project, a band called boygenius that she formed with other indie-pop darlings Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus.

As soon as the skeleton crew left the stage, the excitement throughout the stadium was through the non-existent roof. Screams filled the air as “Applause” by Lady Gaga started playing over the speakers – Swifties know that this is the second-to-last song that plays before Swift takes the stage on this tour.

A countdown clock for two minutes appeared on the screen as Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” began to play, a nod to Swift re-recording her past albums to regain ownership of her masters. When the clock ran out, the crowd somehow got even louder.

A medley of some of the pop star’s biggest hits started to play, with the lyric “it’s been a long time coming” from “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” echoing throughout the recording. Once lyrics from all ten of her albums had been included, dancers wearing large feathers lifted up their capes from the ground to reveal Swift rising from below the stage onto a platform, beginning to perform that same lyric leading into “Miss Americana.” The crowd went even wilder.

The Eras Tour, appropriately named, is organized into each era of Swift’s career, marked by her album releases. The show started with six songs from “Lover,” an album that she never got to perform live in the United States due to the 2020 pandemic. This portion included radio hits like “You Need To Calm Down” and “Lover” as well as some of her best work, like the Jack Antonoff-produced “Cruel Summer” and gorgeously vulnerable “The Archer.”

The lights then turned yellow to signal the beginning of the “Fearless” era, Swift’s second studio album that she re-recorded and released in 2021. This set was just three songs long, but the universally beloved tracks “Fearless,” “You Belong With Me,” and “Love Story” had everyone dancing so much that I think I felt the floor shake under me.

Possibly the most energetic part of the night was followed by one of the most somber, as Swift performed five tracks from her 2020 album “evermore.” There were too many highlights of this set to count, but the fans really played an integral role, from lighting up the stadium with their phone flashlights during “marjorie,” a song about the pop star’s late grandmother, to giving her a two-minute long standing ovation after “champagne problems,” an incredibly sad song about rejecting a marriage proposal.

The show continued to move at a breakneck pace, giving us all mental whiplash as we moved into the “Reputation” era. Swift and her dancers were all on point as they expertly executed intricate choreography for some of her most badass songs like “…Ready For It?” and “Look What You Made Me Do.”

My only possible disappointment with this setlist is that only one song from “Speak Now,” my second-favorite Taylor Swift album, was included. However, that five minutes and 52 seconds of hearing “Enchanted” life was absolutely magical, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby while screaming all of the lyrics at the top of my lungs.

The second album that Swift re-recorded and released “Red,” was one of the longer sets of the night, but I certainly wasn’t complaining. Once again, the more popular songs like “22,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” were played, but there was also time carved out for “Nothing New,” a collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers, and all ten minutes of the painfully beautiful “All Too Well.”

The energy shifted again for the longest set of the night, celebrating Swift’s first 2020 album, “folklore.” I wasn’t sure how such sad and low-energy songs would translate to a live setting, but with how many fans (including me) were still scream-singing and dancing, it’s safe to say that things were just fine.

“1989” was the second-to-last era of the night, and this one was pretty much all radio hits once again. I’ve seen some fans complain that there weren’t more deep cuts on this setlist, but I actually have to disagree. Sure, it would’ve been great to hear some rarer songs, but knowing that nearly everyone in the stadium knew every word to tracks like “Blank Space” and “Wildest Dreams” made for a much better experience than if she played something that only the most dedicated fans would know.

Up next was my most anticipated set of the night, the surprise acoustic songs. For her past few tours, Swift has always played one or two songs on a B-Stage closer to the crowd on guitar and/or piano, switching out the song(s) every night so each show would be just a little bit different from the rest.

At my show, she started with “Welcome to New York” on guitar, which made me laugh since we were actually in New Jersey, but as a New Yorker, I loved it. She then played “Clean” on piano, the first surprise song that she has played twice on this tour, claiming that she could have played it better in a different key.

“Clean” was one of my surprise songs the night I saw Swift live for the first time at the same stadium just five years ago, so that was definitely an emotional full-circle moment for me. I was also super happy that we got two songs from “1989,” my third-favorite album of hers (yes, I have them all ranked).

The final set of the night was centered around Swift’s most recent album, “Midnights,” released in October 2022. She played both of my favorite songs from the record, the lead single “Anti-Hero” and the album closer “Mastermind,” along with other fan-favorites like “Lavender Haze” and “Bejeweled.”

Swift ended the night with “Karma,” another high-energy hit from “Midnights” that she recently released a remix of featuring up-and-coming rapper Ice Spice. Ice Spice came out to rap her verse on all three nights at MetLife, which was the cherry on top of an incredible show.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that attending this tour was an absolutely life-changing experience. I grew up listening to this music, discovering Swift’s music when I heard her one of her debut singles “Our Song” on the radio as a little girl. 

“Fearless,” “Speak Now” and “Red” were the soundtracks to my elementary school years, “1989” and “Reputation” got me through middle and high school, and when I had no idea what was happening during a worldwide pandemic, “Lover,” “folklore,” and “evermore” were like a safety blanket in the form of a trilogy of albums. I listened to “Midnights” for the first time in my college radio station that I am now, over six months later, the general manager of. I truly feel like I grew up alongside this artist, and I’m so thankful that I got to celebrate her career as well as my own growth at The Eras Tour this summer.