Taylor Swift at Toyota Center, 5/16/13
There was a moment about a minute and a half or so into Thursday night's concert where Taylor Swift stopped, looked straight into one of the many cameras filming her show, and smiled. The crowd roared as if they had seen a miracle. It was the type of loud that you're not sure is entirely possible.
And that was just for a smile.
The night would go on, hit songs would be played, words would be said, and confetti would fly, but in that one euphoric moment none of that mattered. Taylor Swift was there, in person, and she was happy. And so the crowd was happy.
Moments like that make it really hard to focus on the music.
This is unfortunate, because what gets lost in the world of tabloid gossip, funny memes, and the fact that a lot of the time it's just more interesting to talk about Swift rather than her music is the fact that she is a talented songwriter.
Other than to talk about testing the waters of dubstep on "I Knew You Were Trouble" (the live version features an even bigger dubstep breakdown that still doesn't exactly work) not a lot has been said about the songwriting of her most recent album Red, which made up the bulk of the songs of the show.
The songs of Red are, much like her stage show, perhaps a bit too glossy. Swift doesn't write songs that really lend themselves to big stage spectacle -- "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" excluded, because it's got that massive pop hook -- so at times the stage show felt a bit forced. Not bad or unimpressive, because it was nice to look at and clearly they spent money on the show, but the strength of the songs and the talent of the musicians playing them would have been enough to carry the show.
The show was its best when it got down to basics, with Swift at her acoustic guitar or at a piano. A prime example of this was her performance of "All Too Well," which featured her at the piano with simple staging. There was a moment as the song hit it's peak where she paused to wipe tears away from her eyes and in that moment I was completely hooked, thinking to myself, "Wow, this song is amazing."
This is weird, because five hours earlier I listened to the song in my office and thought it was mad corny.