As Taylor Swift pointed out about a quarter way into her marathon show Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field, the last time she played Philly was five years ago, supporting Reputation. Since then, she released four new albums, and we all had a lot of catching up to do. Instead of having an awkward tour promoting four records that sound quite different from one another, Swift indulged her devoted fans with a 45-song, three-hour-twenty-minute show celebrating the majority of her discography. The Eras Tour was big, bold, and showed that Taylor Swift is without a doubt a stadium-level pop star.
Beginning with 2019’s Lover, Swift took us album by album (leaving out her self-titled debut and her holiday album) through many personae, love stories, heartbreak stories and life lessons. Highlights included a short set from Fearless that found her revisiting teenage insecurities (“who wants to go back to high school with me?” she asked the 71,000-strong capacity crowd, who cheered loud affirmations); the scorned but self-confident songs of Red (“22” featured Swift and her dancers forming a kick line at the edge of the B stage); a high-energy if over-compact medley of metropolitan pop highs from 1989; and a surprisingly solid set from Reputation, an uneven record that translated excellently into stadium anthems.
Swift gave her Reading roots a shoutout during the Evermore set, saying “Pennsylvania is where my childhood happened: daydreaming, running around, creating, imagining scenarios in my head” that would later become songs. Pennsylvania is also where her memories of her late grandmother are set, which made the crowd singing along to “Marjorie” an emotive moment all around.
Evermore was one of two lockdown releases Swift released; an extended set from the acclaimed folklore fell later in the night, and despite its downbeat energy clashing with the late hour, it stuck the landing and connected beautifully. Swift aligned that album, again, to daydreaming, and called its narrative story-songs like “betty” and “august” a contrast to the “painfully autobiographical” style she’s often known for.
The squad of dancers complimented Swift well, the dazzling visuals took full advantage of the large setting, and Swift worked the catwalk all night. She played her acoustic “surprise” mini-set at its far end, giving those towards the back of the floor many moments to remember. When she spoke about the time since her last Philly visit, Swift recalled how the pandemic caused a panic in the music industry that tours of this scale might never happen again. The Eras Tour was the work of an artist who is clearly grateful that major concerts have returned and is not taking them for granted; from its daring concept to its theatrical execution and epic scope, Swift and her team delivered an impactful night of pop, all the way up to the finale set showcasing over half of last year’s Midnights, concluding on a joyful and sparkling “Karma,” with fireworks popping off in the sky above The Linc.
The night got started with an opening set by California pop-rock phenom Gayle, followed by XPN fave Phoebe Bridgers, who played a short but powerful set of songs from her first two albums and ended with the cathartic “I Know the End.” It was also a pleasant surprise to see the 1975’s Matty Healy accompanying Bridgers on guitar; later in the night, Bridgers also joined Swift on “Nothing New,” an outtake from Red. Check out a gallery of photos from the concert below; Taylor Swift continues her sold-out three-night stand at The Linc tonight and Sunday.