Taylor Swift is everything to teen girls and young adults—pop star, counselor, confidante, best friend and sister.
Swift played all of those roles Monday, August 17, in front of a sold-out crowd at Gila River Arena in Glendale. Teenage girls held illuminated posters proclaiming their admiration for the 20-something star. Others dressed in costumes to try to get the singer’s attention.
But there was one woman who was the centerpiece of the 2.5-hour performance: Maya Thompson whose son, Ronan, died of cancer. Swift penned a song about Ronan using Thompson’s blog posts and previously only performed it during the 2012 “Stand Up to Cancer” telethon. In a space usually reserved for special guests, Swift sang a tear-soaked rendition of “Ronan” to the young boy’s family.
The somber moment was the only downbeat portion of the show. While Swift has always been philanthropic and accommodating to her fans, with her latest album, 1989, she is letting a different side of her shine. From the moment Swift stepped onstage to perform “Welcome to New York,” it was clear this wasn’t Taylor Swift of old.
She let her pop sensibilities shine, completely writing off her previous tracks, except for “Love Song,” which was reimagined into a dreamy pop standard.
The show leaned heavily on 1989 from the get-go, starting with the album’s opening track, “Welcome to New York.” Hits like “Blank Space,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” “Bad Blood” and “Shake It Off” filled out the set list, proving that Swift has changed personally and professionally. She’s romantically involved with DJ Calvin Harris, and took the opportunity—several times, at length—to show off her newfound views on love and relationships.
She encouraged the girls in the crowd to not let some lackluster boy run their lives. Females need to stand up for themselves, toss these guys to the curb and understand there are better people out there for them.
You could just hear the “amen” coming from the Swift minions.
The show was a celebration of Swift and her move toward pop music and the young woman stressed that. She was pleased that 15,000 of her closest friends were there to join her.
Welcome to New York
I Knew You Were Trouble
I Wish You Would
How You Get the Girl
I Know Places
All You Had to Do Was Stay
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Out of the Woods
Shake It Off