In a show that was talked about as the largest Ohio Stadium has ever put on, somehow, some way, 28-year-old pop sensation Taylor Swift was able to make it feel like more than a show that was larger than life.
No, instead, Swift brought a near-sold out stadium that is used to seating 100,000 football fans a show that was full of excitement, energy and moments for people both on the floor and in the highest seats available.
Swift made Ohio Stadium’s largest show feel small, personal and special in all the right ways, and she did it masterfully through over 20 songs, each feeling like they could have worked as a grand finale.
I wouldn’t go as far as to call myself a massive fan of Swift. I enjoy her classic hits and thoroughly like her full turn to pop in “1989.” I also enjoyed “reputation,” as it featured a lot of strong vocal performances and catchy beats, even with some iffy singles under its resume.
I came in looking for Swift to touch on her career highlights, but also knew that most of the concert would circle around her most recent album. She started off her set with some pure, visceral energy in the form of “…Ready For It?,” a song I usually dislike. But, as an opener, this song worked in getting the crowd energized, as the bass rumbled through Ohio Stadium, getting everyone on their feet.
Swift followed this up with “I Did Something Bad,” which featured a fiery performance to go along with a fitting fireworks display during the chorus. Then “Gorgeous” and “Style” came and went as two fan favorites that were performed with a smile on Swift’s face — a smile that undeniably became infectious for myself and those around me during the set.
The highlight among a show full of highlights came during and after the song, “Delicate,” as Swift flew across Ohio Stadium and found herself on a smaller stage in the back corner of the stadium. Here, Swift performed “Shake it Off” with her two openers, Charli XCX and Camila Cabello, who both gave strong performances and were successfully able to get the crowd alive before the main event.
After starting on this stage with one of her most upbeat tracks, Swift performed two acoustic songs that felt more intimate than some of the smallest shows I have ever been at, instead this time, it was in front of one of the biggest concerts the state has ever seen.
If surprising one side of the stadium wasn’t enough, Swift made her way to the opposite corner and performed “Blank Space” and “Dress,” making sure to see hundreds of screaming fans on the walk over. Swift seemed up to the task to make such a massive production feel incredibly intimate, and to make as many fans happy as physically possible.
From Swift performing one of her most heartfelt songs, “New Year’s Day,” twice in a row to closing out the show on a trio of “Getaway Car,” “Call Me What You Want” and a mashup of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” the show closed as it began: in stunning fashion.
Sure, I had a few complaints: the video transition highlighting Swift’s reputation felt like a bit much and the videos shown before the set seemed like an overinflation of her ego, but these complaints feel small —microscopically small — in front of the masterful performance that was put on by one of the most successful artists in the world.
Swift came out knowing, in a stadium that has held U2, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones, that this would be the biggest show Ohio Stadium has ever put on. And she rocked it to its core, coming out with energizing performances mixed with beautiful moments with heart and passion that felt truly genuine. The production on the whole was immaculate, the visuals were grand and the performer found a way to make it all feel grounded anyway.
This was a show that had it all, and it had almost everything to do with its star, who proved to be a true showman in every way. Ohio Stadium couldn’t have dreamt of a better performance, not in their wildest dreams.