Co-written by Shannon Lynch, edited by Anna Mengani
At 7:55 p.m. on Thursday, April 13th, 2023 the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL ripples with screams of excitement as some fans spot a janitor cart rolling to the back of the stage - a cart that social media suspects to include Taylor Swift inside. The crowd stands up in high anticipation for a night they have long been waiting for: Taylor Swift’s first night in Tampa for The Eras Tour. Then, a clock (in reference to Swift’s most recent album Midnights) appears on the stage screen with a countdown until showtime. Once the clock hits midnight, the crowd of 68,517 people roars as dancers begin entering the stage with large, fluorescent, feather-like props. Swift enters the stage on a rising platform through a trapdoor, kicking off the show with ‘Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince’ from her album Lover.
This show consisted of a three-hour long set, dedicating a portion of time to each of her "eras”, or albums she has released thus far in her career. These eras were (in order) Lover, Fearless, Evermore, Reputation, Speak Now, Red, Folklore, 1989, and lastly Midnights, her newest album. It was evident that Swift went into planning the tour with the hope that every individual in the crowd would be entertained and intrigued despite the location of their seat, whether they were in the front or last row, or somewhere in between. Even during Swift’s quick changes, there was always something captivating happening on stage. There were moments throughout her songs that included fire, confetti, and fireworks. Through the use of intricate stage sets, cinematic transitions, and eye-catching props, Swift was consistent in showcasing a detailed story for each era.
In addition to the beautiful production features, Swift also took the opportunity to debut four new outfits on her first night in Tampa. These wardrobe changes included a stunning orange-beaded two-piece for the 1989 Era, a majestic purple gown for the Speak Now Era, a whimsical green dress as part of her Folklore era, and a flowing yellow dress to sing her surprise songs of the night. Swift is known to perform songs that are not included on the setlist, but this idea took on a whole new level of excitement for fans on The Eras Tour. In between the 1989 and Midnights eras, Taylor took time to perform two acoustic songs, ‘Speak Now’ (performed on guitar) and ‘Treacherous’ (performed on piano). These songs are changed for every show and have become a huge part of the tour, keeping fans on their toes with anticipation, hoping she plays their favorite songs.
While performing ‘Speak Now,’ she mixed up verses and paused to fix them quickly while giggling. Although Taylor Swift may have forgotten the order of lyrics from an old song for a brief moment, fans believe that she does not do anything without a purpose behind it. They quickly took to Twitter and TikTok after the show, wondering if the mix-up in lyrics meant that she will replay the surprise song at another show later in the tour to announce a release of Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). This older album’s re-release is highly anticipated as Taylor Swift is in the process of obtaining the rights to all of her original music after her former record label sold her discography to her previous manager, Scooter Braun, for $300 million. When not writing new music, she has been re-recording almost every album and has so far re-released Red and Fearless. Listeners can tell which version of the song is owned by Swift, as each re-recording has ‘(Taylor’s Version)’ within the title.
Throughout the magnificent show, Swift experienced a few mishaps. Following the surprise songs, she went to dive into an open trapdoor on the stage, making it look like she was diving into a body of water and swimming. However, the trapdoor did not open in time, which delayed Swift’s chance to dive, causing it to appear as if she was already swimming even though she was still standing on stage. Then, during the Midnights era, while performing her hit song ‘Anti-Hero,' Swift noticed that her garter broke and had begun to fall off. Upon noticing this, she began walking over to her backup singers, asking them to fix it while she sang the lyrics, “I should not be left to my own devices…. I end up in crisis," and shrugged it off jokingly. Despite these mishaps, Swift handled each minor error with a great level of grace and professionalism, making them go unnoticeable to most of the audience. For the fans who did notice, they felt that the errors just made the show more special.
Swift is no stranger to Tampa, Florida, having previously performed at the Saint Petersburg Pier in 2006, the Strawberry Festival in 2009, the Amalie Arena in 2010, 2011, and 2013, and finally playing at Raymond James Stadium in 2015 and 2018. The Eras Tour marks Swift’s sixth tour and her return to Tampa after a five-year break since her last tour, Reputation, in 2018. Her three-night residency in Tampa included opening acts Gayle (4/13), Beabadobee (4/13 - 4/15), and Gracie Abrams (4/14 - 4/15), who Swift made sure to thank on stage each of the nights, showing her appreciation and respect to their dedication for this tour.
Taylor Swift also took time out of her show to express gratitude towards her fans, thanking them for the amount of effort they made despite the challenges there were to attend. When tickets for The Eras Tour went on sale, there were multiple steps involved in securing them. Fans registered via Ticketmaster for a Verified Fan Presale code, where recipients were then chosen at random. There were two rounds of this presale due to the anticipated high volume of requests, but Ticketmaster ended up canceling the general public on-sale, which was the only chance at grabbing tickets for those fans that were unlucky in receiving a code. When the presale tickets went on sale, a majority of fans had trouble securing them due to bots flooding the platform. Fans were left frustrated when the site continued to crash after long wait times and when the bots made it increasingly difficult to purchase seats. The entire tour became sold out within an hour of the presale and tickets quickly went from $400 at face value, to $22,000, leaving a multitude of people ticketless. However, 206,459 people were still able to come together and attend the shows in Tampa making Swift the only artist in history to sell out a three-night, back-to-back concert at the Raymond James Stadium.
In addition to Swift’s incredible performance and stage presence, we would love to credit the amazing 15 dancers who are a HUGE part of The Eras Tour. They continue to perform choreography by the talented Mandy Moore, who has worked on shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars, as well as choreographed for some of the biggest stars in the world. These dancers displayed their stamina and technique throughout the majority of the three-hour set. Through the unique use of props as well as movement, these dancers continue to tell stories and bring Swift’s songs to life on stage. The layout of this stage was utilized extremely well, as the dancers often traveled up and down the runway-like structure, showcasing their choreography. The dynamic of the routines was extremely diverse, having the dancers pair up during slower songs like Lover and giving almost every one of them the chance to dance solo for a portion of a song. Without them, the show would not be complete and I give them a tremendous amount of credit for making this tour as successful as it was.
The environment created by the fans at Tampa’s opening night of The Eras Tour was incredibly welcoming, loving, and inclusive. They came together and traded friendship bracelets, dressed up, and sang their hearts out to every song. The crowd of nearly 70,000 continued to chant Swift’s name throughout the show, causing her to pause between some songs to take it all in with a smile. Before performing ‘Champagne Problems’ on piano, she responded to the repetitive chanting by saying, “Oh, so this is the best crowd, huh? I love you!" The impressive three-hour, no-break performance was one that we will not be able to forget and the love and unity that was felt within the Raymond James Stadium on April 13th is a major part of why we will cherish this experience for many years to come. Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour was a reminder that music brings people together in a beautiful way and we are thankful for the privilege that is the return of live shows, as well as Swift’s return to Tampa, Florida.
We would also love to give a HUGE thank you to Premium PR for this wonderful opportunity!!
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