Everyone knows that moment, the moment in a wedding when the preacher says, "Speak now or forever hold your peace." The thing is? Hardly anyone ever does. Country-pop artist Taylor Swift is trying to eliminate the fear and hesitation of saying what you really feel. For the past few months Taylor has been traveling from country to country and city to city on her 2011 Speak Now World Tour. At the beginning of the concert, as the lights go down and the fans go wild, you hear Taylor say, "I think most of us fear reaching the end of our life, and looking back, regretting the moments we didn't speak up. When we didn't say I love you, and should've said I'm sorry... There's a time for silence, and there's a time for waiting your turn. But if you know how you feel, and you so clearly know what you want to say, I don't think you should wait. I think you should speak now." It's all fairytale from then on out. Fireworks explode, dancers paint the stage, and Taylor puts on a show that takes you to another planet.
If one thing is for certain, it is that it wouldn't be a Taylor Swift concert without a few sparkly dresses; Taylor dons a fringed-out gold one for her opening number, "Sparks Fly." The crowd cheers uncontrollably as Tay whips her curly locks in every direction and while firework sparklers crackle on stage. At the end of her second song, "Mine," Taylor addresses the audience and simply says, "Hi, I'm Taylor." (Phew, thanks for letting us know, as if we couldn't tell before.) Upon arriving at the venue, one could definitely see that a Taylor Swift concert was in town. Fans of all ages showed up to the arena sporting Taylor-inspired curls, sundresses, cowboy boots, and, for the brave, even costumes. From the amount of 13's written on the hands of every other person there, it's safe to say Taylor's fans are everything but superstitious. No sir, for all that we know the concert went off without a hitch.
The song "The Story of Us" was accompanied with sass and attitude as Taylor proclaimed, "...the end" for that love story. Taylor went on to sing "Our Song," one of her first and most beloved singles. Before "Mean," one of her band members put on a charming tap dance performance then Taylor popped out -- I mean literally popped out -- of the stage and grabbed her banjo. "Back to December" contained elements of "Apologize" by One Republic and "You're Not Sorry," along with a wintery snowstorm, an amazing white piano, and a gorgeous ball gown. "Better Revenge" showed a nastier side of Taylor, with lyrics like "She's an actress, whoa, but she's better known for the things that she does on the mattress" -- whooa. Her tour's title song, "Speak Now," was complete with a faux wedding scene, cute white gloves, sweet choreography, and hilarious backup singers.
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One of the best parts was when Taylor slipped into the audience and hugged her fans as she made her way to a circular stage in the back of the arena. There, she pulled out her ukulele and sang "Fearless," along with a cover of "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. On the rotating stage -- under a color-changing tree that sparkled with twinkly lights -- she also sang "Last Kiss" and "You Belong With Me." One of the highlights of the concert was when she belted "Drops of Jupiter" by Train (a surprising amount of Swifties knew all the lyrics to that one). Then back to the stage it was for "Dear John," and I have to admit, even I had to fight off a few tears. "Enchanted" was welcomed with a ballet dance that was not only beautiful, but absolutely memorizing. Before her song "Haunted," Taylor passionately swung at a giant bell engraved with the Roman numerals "XII" for "13," while it was full of emotions it was also full of a few audience giggles, Tay was going a little wild on that one. Taylor dedicated "Long Live" to the audience, singing, "Long live all the mountains we moved, I had the time of my life, fighting dragons with you." Things slowed down again for "Fifteen," while every girl 16 and over sobbed as they remembered their freshman-year crush/boyfriend. "Love Story" included a glittery gown, a release of thousands of multi-colored confetti, and a floating balcony that brought Taylor through the air around the arena.
Then it was over. The lights went up and while some fans were being quickly dragged out of the arena by their parents in order to beat the parking lot traffic, others were gathering up piles of confetti and stuffing them in their purses and pockets. Some were even standing near the edge of the stage chanting "Taylor, Taylor, Taylor!" hoping that the charming blonde would pop out and say hi.
As a critic I would say that it was full of great songs but not enough get-up-and-dance ones, there were a few slow parts that I actually sat down at, and I don't normally sit down at concerts. As a fan I have to say, it was enchanting, sparkling, and I absolutely loved it. Either way it was clear that Taylor connects with her audience and that there is a Taylor Swift song for any emotion you're going through. Whereas I might not rush out and profess my love to my crush, or go and tell off an ex, I definitely feel like someone understands now. Taylor has a knack for songwriting and a powerful stage presence. An army of teenagers with mascara-stained cheeks, jumpy eight year olds, and heads of flattened curly hair left the arena as best friends -- and we were all wonderstruck.