Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Melbourne, February 16th 2024 – Live Review

The Eras Tour doesn’t just start at the concert venue, no. For some, The Eras Tour starts months in advance with fans meticulously planning their Taylor Swift themed outfits, and this time friendship bracelets have been thrown into the mix.

Inspired by the song ‘You’re On Your Own, Kid’ from her Midnights era with the lyrics, “’Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned, Everything you lose is a step you take, So make the friendship bracelets, Take the moment and taste it, You’ve got no reason to be afraid”. And made friendship bracelets, they did.

While incomparable to months, my Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour experience began when I was in the city and making my way to the venue. You could tell who was headed to the event as Swifties were easily identifiable from their friendship bracelets alone, unique and multi-coloured, adorned on their wrists. Even Yarra Trams got in on the action, having a women’s refugee community help them make green friendship bracelets that said “I ♥ TRAMS” on them which workers were happily and freely giving away to fans while they waited on the platform. After collecting my own cute green friendship bracelet, I too hopped on a tram to make my way to the MCG.

During my arrival and entry into the venue, I was in awe of how detailed and impressive the costumes were. Some had giant oversized friendship bracelets that they wore like a sash, I saw many in Red era themed “Not A Lot Going On At The Moment” t-shirts, hand-made ‘Junior Jewels’ t-shirts inspired from the music video ‘You Belong With Me’ from her Fearless era, cheerleader costumes from the 1989 era, gowns with a ‘Miss Americana’ sash on them to represent the Lovers era, many dedicated fans in gorgeous Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert outfits including the red and black bodysuit from the Reputation era set, and there were even multiple male attendees that wore Kansas City Chiefs (recent Super Bowl winners) jerseys with Travis Kelce’s number at the back. Why? That’s Taylor Swift’s man and so, these shirts and outfits were appropriately very Taylor Swift coded and themed.

Finally getting to my allocated seat in the middle of the MCG floor, I had decided to go for a walk to get a drink and find the location of my nearest bathroom. Considering The Eras Tour set is 3 hours long, it was definitely wise to do these things prior to the show starting. What I didn’t expect was to come back to my seat with my wrist full of friendship bracelets. Even though I had nothing to offer, fans were very generous with them and soon enough, I had about 7 that I could freely exchange with others for different designs. This is something that is unique to Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. I loved how inclusive it was too and really hope Swifties continue to do this in the future.

It wasn’t long before Taylor Swift was ready to arrive and with a countdown appearing on the big screen of the massive Eras Tour stage with her band placed on either side of it. United and excited, patrons collectively counted down and cheered in anticipation. Appearing in a gorgeous rhinestone leotard, Swift kickstarted the concert by throwing us into the Lover era with songs including ‘Cruel Summer’, ‘The Man’ which had Taylor put on bejewelled suit jacket while strutting down in an office setting with her dancers, ‘You Need to Calm Down’ and ‘The Archer’ that had Swift making hand gesture movements as if she was such.

During her opening set, Swift shared multiple times in disbelief that she was playing to the capacity of 96,000 – her biggest concert of her career. Although she did address this at the beginning of the first Melbourne show, throughout the night it was clear when Taylor took moments in between sets to stop and admire the view she had of the MCG audience, all shining like stars from their light-up wristbands that were given to patrons before the show.

Overwhelmingly and genuinely chuffed, at one point, Taylor just stood on stage taking it all in, said “Oh my god!” without her microphone, full of love and awe for what she was achieving in real-time that night, but also so grateful for the reception and support from the Melbourne patrons that evening. Swift even stated that it had been too long since she was last in Australia, 6 years ago for her Reputation Tour and was overjoyed to welcome Melbourne to The Eras Tour. “I love you so much. I really missed coming to Australia. It’s on another level, you’re just different, a whole other planet of volume”, and we were.

Shaping our hands into love hearts, fist pumping, dancing, chanting fan-chants (unofficial lyrics to songs) and waiting for our favourite era to be performed.

The Evermore era was filled with autumn vibes, Taylor donning a green cloak with her dancers in similar attire holding with what appeared to be round glowing lantern-like balls while the projection on the big screens transported us to a forest. Songs performed in this set including ‘willow’, ‘marjorie’ and ‘champagne problems’, the latter had Swift on a piano that appeared to be covered in moss.

The Folklore era had a cabin set up where Swift sung on its roof and inside it. Dressed in a lovely green dress, sometimes equipped with a guitar, she performed Folklore songs including ‘betty’, ‘my tears ricochet’ which had a really cool movie style video interlude prior, and ‘cardigan’.

The Fearless era set had iconic songs which included ‘Fearless’, ‘You Belong With Me’, and the classic ‘Love Story’. The entire MCG felt like it was overflowing with happiness as everyone sung along word for word to these popular songs and I too sung and danced along in elation. For this section, Swift wore a short gold dress with tassels, fitting to its era while for the Speak Now era section, Swift wore a sparkly long and large ombré purple gown and sung ‘Enchanted’ and fan favourite ‘Long Live’. “I had the time of my life, fighting dragons with you” remains to be one of my favourite Taylor Swift lyrics. The fact that this gorgeous dress used to only come out for one song before she added ‘Long Live’ later on to the tour set is almost criminal.

Popular era, Red had the audience even more animated than they already were. Swift appeared on stage singing ‘22’ wearing a black hat and in the ‘Not A Lot Going On At The Moment’ t-shirt and even gifted her hat to a lucky young fan in the crowd during this set. She later wore a red and black ombré leotard for the set.

Production wise, I dare say the Red era set of The Eras Tour was probably one of the most exciting to witness live. From confetti flying in the wind to the 10 minute version of ‘All Too Well’ to the CO2 jets blasting during ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’, even the “Yeah, nah!” Aussie nod during ‘We Are Never Getting Back Together’ was hilarious, and all of it was fun. Not only for the fans seated around me, sobbing and singing along to every word of this set, but on a personal note, The Red Tour is one that I wished I went to. This is what’s so great about The Eras Tour – long-time and new fans alike can see an era that they’ve loved and missed out on, or can relive it.

And now for the two eras I have seen previously – 1989 and Reputation. At this point, I had lost count of how many costumes Swift had changed into but this was forgivable considering the that both era sets showed multiple Taylor Swifts on the big screen (ie. ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ and ‘Blank Space’). During the Reputation set, the lighting of the tour was at its most prominent. The light bands of the audience flickered and were made to look like a giant luminous snake that was winding around the MCG, the stage that would rise up and down whenever Taylor needed a platform would also flash red, sometimes with snake pattern scales or images of candles. ‘Delicate’ had fans chanting the “1, 2, 3 –  Let’s go, bitch!” line, and ‘Don’t Blame Me’ had Swift looking commanding and smouldering while being engulfed with smoke machines.

For the 1989 part of the set, Swift sang ‘Style’, ‘Wildest Dreams’, ‘Shake It Off’ which had everyone including the upper tiers of the MCG up and dancing, ‘Blank Space’ which had Swift and her dancers swinging around lit up neon blue golf clubs, and ‘Bad Blood’ had fans shouting the fan chant “You forgive, you forget, but you never let it – go!” while patrons were treated to bursts of flames that surrounded the MCG. Having seen both The 1989 World Tour and The Reputation Stadium Tour, I felt that these sets were the perfect representation of their eras, especially the Reputation one which feels like an enhanced and evolved depiction. After all, how often do you see a digital luminescent snake dancing over a crowd?

My favourite set of the night, however, was the acoustic section. This is where Taylor comes out to play two surprise songs of her choice that differ each night on the acoustic guitar and on the piano. I was overjoyed when she performed ‘Red’, the era and song I was sad to miss, and ‘You’re Losing Me’ a rare bonus track number from Taylor’s Midnights (The Late Night Edition) album. When Taylor was performing both of these songs, the MCG audience were respectfully quiet, taking in how lucky they were to hear these rarities live. Every night is different, so it really felt like a special moment and gift to hear one of the songs I’ve always wanted to hear live and another that had never been performed live before.

Finally, it was time for Swift’s Midnights era. This is the set that made me realise the entire stage floor including the rising platform is a screen, or multiple screens. This was particularly obvious through the era transition, Taylor dived down and disappeared, but the floor made it look like she was swimming underwater! Even during ‘Mastermind’, the stage floor transformed into a giant checkerboard.

During ‘Lavender Haze’, the entire venue turned purple and it was such a beautiful view, ‘Midnight Rain’ had dancers emerge with umbrellas and the screen created the illusion of it raining, which was very clever. ‘Anti-Hero’ had footage of a giant Taylor in true Godzilla vibes and kicking over buildings of a tiny defenceless city while ‘Bejeweled’ had the entire venue sparking and shimmering like we were all stunning gemstones. When Taylor ended with her final song ‘Karma’, her dancers appeared dressed in colours of the rainbow while multiple fireworks surrounded the MCG and majestically ignited upwards into the clear Melbourne night sky to join the stars and constellations above.

It is undeniable of the cultural phenomenon of Taylor Swift and The Eras Tour alone. It didn’t matter which era you were initially a part of, whether you were long time fan, a new fan, or you’re a casual one. Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour is an insanely impressive production that is well-worth the hype and is an enjoyable experience that is only enriched by the generosity, kindness, and passion of her fans, to whom Swift thanked for allowing her to experiment with her music and still be embraced by their support and love.

It is evident that Taylor Swift doesn’t need to play for 3 hours to make bank she does it because she wants to. With a deep love for her artistry, her music, and her Swifties, she’s doing all this for the fans who are the beating heart and soul of this tour. The Eras Tour experience wouldn’t be nearly as accepting, inclusive and wonderful without them. I am grateful that I too was embraced by fans and feel that, considering this Melbourne show was the biggest single concert of her career, that I was a part of something really special.

On the tram ride back into the city, I noticed my wristband was still flashing despite having left the MCG already. It was like a piece of The Eras Tour was coming back home with me. Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station was even lit up with a gorgeous projection and message stating “Welcome to Melbourne, Swifties” on it. And I happily continued to exchange friendship bracelets with fans on the way home.

Proudly presented by Crown and Frontier Touring, Taylor Swift is performing The Eras Tour in Melbourne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) over 3 nights of sold out shows on the 16th, 17th and 18th of February. The first concert on Friday the 16th of February was attended for the purpose of this review.
For more information on the artist and the tour, visit:
https://www.taylorswift.com
https://www.frontiertouring.com/taylorswift

Photography supplied by TAS Rights Management.

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