Taylor Swift, one of the most blessedly prolific artists in recent years, has struck again. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, a concert film announced mere weeks ago, is one of her finest, mightiest offerings yet.
This is a nearly three-hour extravaganza showcasing a spectacular artist achieving amazing heights. I’m not going to say this is showcasing her at the peak of her career, because who knows what Swift will offer up next? She’s anything but predictable and has a crazy tendency to keep outdoing herself.
I sat in a surprisingly empty theater for this film. (It was a last-minute addition after a bunch of other screenings sold out.) I think there were four other people there, two of them young Swifties swaying and singing along a few rows ahead of me. I instantly regretted not going to one of the packed shows. I’m sure it’s a blast to see this in a sold-out setting—yet it was cool to see it this way, too, because all of Swift’s powerful, impressive vocals and lyrics, and her sweet chit-chats with the audience (filmed in Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium in August), were perfectly audible.
However you see it, this movie is a solid-across-the-board concert-going experience that will soothe the hearts of fans who missed the live shows, while being an entertaining refresher for those who did get to see one of her recent concerts.
The film is about 30 minutes shorter than the live show (costume changes, a few songs and some stage talk are omitted), but you’ll still feel like you are at the show and fully immersed. As a wonderfully choreographed journey through Swift’s career, the show’s approach is more thematic than chronological, and it works.
Considering the sheer physical exertion and vocal challenges of performing all of these album selections live, the decision to present her various albums out of chronological order makes sense. While Swift really gets no clear breaks, she does get to sit down at a piano or stand still with a guitar on occasion, instead of dancing full-on in high heels for overlong stretches. If this had been chronologically arranged, the intense, poppier 1989-Reputation-Lover progression might’ve sent her and her dancers to an early grave.
While the entire show does not have a single inferior moment, the standout section is the Evermore sequence. Evermore, her second pandemic album after Folklore, was treated by some as an “outtake” album—but it’s not. It’s one of her best, and the lush songs lead to some of the more beautifully staged numbers in the show.
Make no mistake: This is very much a choreographed, intricate, beautifully stylized show as much as it is a straightforward concert experience. Many of these numbers would be worthy of an acclaimed Broadway musical. She’ll probably write and direct one of those someday.
As for musical highlights, Evermore’s “Champagne Problems,” with Swift at her moss-covered piano, is as enchanting of a number as you will ever see. Reputation’s “Look What You Made Me Do” and “… Ready for It?” will have you eagerly returning to that album, and the 10-minute “All Too Well” is likely to draw tears from fans and non-fans alike.
The time flies by, and honestly, I could’ve watched three hours more. Taylor Swift has already amassed a catalog worthy of a much-longer career, and she could do a sequel show without repeating a single song from this setlist—and still crush it. “Mean,” “Out of the Woods,” “This Is Me Trying,” “Getaway Car,” “State of Grace” and “Cardigan” are some the many songs that don’t make the cut in this movie. That’s not a complaint; that’s just an illustration of how much Swift truly has to offer at this stage of her career.
With Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, Swift and director Sam Wrench have delivered a concert movie that stands with the all-time-great films in the genre. She’s slated to direct a feature film in the near future; she will probably release something like 20 more albums in the next 10 years; and she just made one of the best concert movies to ever grace a screen.
Yet she’s just getting started.