|Photos courtesy Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo|
Teenage girls turned up in droves for Taylor Swift at RodeoHouston Friday night, letting out piercing screams in between every song, rivaling the intensity of those at the Jonas Brothers concert. Swift already belongs among that small cadre of artists who can send then fans into a frenzy just by showing up at the venue; at Reliant Stadium, her easygoing charm, and flairs of spunk and sass showed why.
Swift seemed genuinely elated to be at the rodeo for the first time, which came through in her energetic performance. Not only did she pack the house, but she also kept the crowd going, a hard task in a venue where the audience is hundreds of feet away.
Swift opened strong with "You Belong to Me," but it was after a blink of eye wardrobe change from a plain black and jeans into a sparkling gold minidress and went into "Our Song" that she really caught fire and got the crowd up and swaying.
"I've never seen so many people before," Swift said to the crowd. She set a record-breaking attendance of 72,658 just above the Jonas Brothers - which might be especially satisfying for her, considering "Forever and Always" is about her ex Joe Jonas. Before she went into the song, she gave a warning to all the guys: If you don't want me sing bad things about you, she said, then don't do bad things. Ear-splitting cheers from teenage girls immediately erupted.
Swift especially shone on her ballad "White Horse." With only her acoustic guitar as accompaniment, her voice came through clear, soulful and pitch-perfect. With rocker "Should've Said No," Swift lost some her twang and turned up the attitude. Her energy and enthusiasm let her pull off the somewhat cheesy song interlude where she stepped away from the mic to do some trash-can banging, arching her back as if to do the limbo to 80s hair metal inspired guitar. Afterward, she paused, drawing a roar from the crowd.
For "Tim McGraw, " Swift asked the crowd to light up their cell phones, and shortly thereafter, the stadium was lit up like a constellation. She followed with "Love Story," which had almost every teenage girl - and even some middle-aged women - up and singing along.
Music videos accompanying "Teardrops on My Guitar" and "Love Story" detracted from the experience because they took the focus (and big-screen displays) away from her. Swift is a natural onstage. When she's in her rhythm, nothing can steal the spotlight from her - not even the god awful emo cuts of her guitarist and bass player.
Swift followed "Love Story" with "Changes." During the chorus of "hallelujah," the audience made ripples across the entire stadium with their arms up in the air going back in forth. She closed with "Picture to Burn," which she hotly declared was dedicated to all those boys out there who were liars and cheaters. She sang about moving on from a bad relationship with the same force she'd kept up the entire set.
Judging from her performance, the singer-songwriter is much more than a teen sensation and won't be moving on any time soon.