Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour: NRG Stadium in Houston, TX
By Waraporn Bollenbacher
REPUTATION. According to Taylor Swift, hers has never been worse—but her fan base, known as the Swifties, is still behind her as much as ever. On September 29th, 2018, thousands of eager fans converged on a rainy Houston, Texas to marvel at how the American singer-songwriter would bring to life the album that kept her out of the public eye for most of 2017. She wanted to do a stadium tour for the first time, where she only played massive venues like NRG (Superbowl) with 72,000 filled seats. It is one of the top shows and tours of 2018.
Openers for the concert were English singer and songwriter Charli XCX and Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello. Both talented and prominent female artists got the crowd hyped with popular radio hits that brought many to their feet dancing. Charli XCX made her entrance in a shiny clear jumpsuit that brought pure energy to the stage, setting the mood for the rest of the night. Camila Cabello was more interactive with the crowd, telling a little more about herself and the heart behind her songs. After seeing the strength in their performances, there’s no question why Taylor invited these women onto the Reputation tour.
The main event opened with Reputation and a video compilation of comments in the media from the past months that critiqued Taylor Swift’s lifestyle choices, habits, song lyrics, and the list goes on. When she took the stage, all eyes locked on her, she spoke openly and candidly about how she let her fear of a bad reputation get in the way of experiencing real love and friendships. With a true knack for connecting with her audience, Taylor Swift poured her heart out from center stage with full honesty and sincere passion. Even though the famous lyrics in her top-hits Delicate and Look What You Made Me Do claim that the “old Taylor is dead,” seeing her stand there with nothing but guitar performing ‘Wonderland’ acoustic , showed her fan base that the Taylor we all fell in love with a decade ago is still, in fact alive. Sure, she has grown up and her musical personality has changed, but don’t we all? Taylor Swift is back and better than ever—and she knows it. She loves her fans fiercely, and she knows now that no matter her reputation, we will stand beside her. See our complete concert photo gallery here.
Production wise, the show went on without so much as a bump. Start to finish was flawless—not to mention that Taylor’s production team is very much in touch with modern technology. Upon clearing the security check each fan was handed a Pix Mob wristband that lit up in different colors and patterns to sync with the show. Taylor incorporated these into the program with one goal in mind. “I want to see each and every one of you,” she said, “and these bracelets let me do that.” The ambience created by the glow of thousands of bracelets was just a bonus. The floor was laid out with an X-shaped main stage in the front and two smaller stages toward the back. Taylor wanted to be able to travel between the stages to see the stadium and fans from different vantage points throughout the night. And travel she did—with the help of suspension mechanisms that flew her from one stage to another. There were massive screens with amazing videos and special effects including lots of pyrotechnics (making it really hot), plus videos of her telling stories about herself, fans, the songs, lyrics, kindness etc. (with a lengthy intro before she came out on stage). There were times of serene beauty with the stadium filled with fan phone flashlights looking like twinkling stars.
There was a massive cobra snake on a back B stage that she flew to in a cage and did a long set to be closer to fans in the back of the arena. The dancers were amazing and at one point looked like she brought fans on stage. She did a gorgeous acoustic set here playing ACT 3 listed below. Then she flew off to the other B stage for another act close to fans. The crowd rushed over to get close to her.
The time it took her to change outfits was also impressive. Each set was intentionally designed to play into Reputation’s theme—glittery, yet edgy, one of which was the sequined rock jacket. That was indeed eye-catching, sparkly, and so Taylor Swift! The coolest part of production, however, was watching her walk on the floor engaging with fans up close, shaking their hands and giving hugs to anyone who could reach. The joy on her face was undeniable, and Taylor is not shy with her facial expression. Her dancers were impressively in-sync throughout the acts and definitely living the moments. Upon getting back on stage, she took a deep breath, looked right, looked left, praised the fans for giving “113% effort” on their costumes, and then expressed utter thankfulness to be sitting in NRG stadium that night. According to Taylor, even her wildest daydreams as a child didn’t look as cool as this. She gave a shout out to her mom who is from Houston, which made the show a special one.
Simply put, the show was outstanding. Even now, I am still speechless. It was clearly well thought-out and executed professionally, none of which is lost on Taylor. She expressed genuine appreciation for the band, dancers, and crew who all left their families to be a part of this tour so that she could live her dream. The atmosphere in NRG stadium after the last song was excited anticipation for what Taylor Swift will come up with next. This was the tale end of this tour, with only a couple shows left. Rest assured there will be more of Taylor Swift.
Taylor Swift NRG Reputation Tour Set List:
(Joan Jett and the Blackhearts song)
…Ready for It?
I Did Something Bad
Style / Love Story / You Belong With Me
Look What You Made Me Do
Look What You Made Me Do
(With Tiffany Haddish speech)
King of My Heart
(With extended outro)
Shake It Off
(With Charli XCX and Camila Cabello)
Dancing With Our Hands Tied
(Acoustic, Tour debut)
Bad Blood / Should’ve Said No
Don’t Blame Me
Long Live / New Year’s Day
Why She Disappeared
(Video Interlude, sequel to “… more )
Call It What You Want
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together / This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things