Live Review: Taylor Swift at MCG, Melbourne
16 Feb, 2024

A clock appears on stage with a two-minute countdown. As it strikes midnight, the crowd unleashes deafening screams of excitement and dancers walk the runway wearing giant windsails like peacock feathers with a sailor’s sky print. Taylor Swift emerges on a podium that elevates her up to begin the Lover era, opening with Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince.

Quickly building momentum, she wastes no time continuing with one of her most popular songs Cruel Summer and as we arrive at the very first bridge of this evening, Swift has a very important question for us before we move forward. “Does anyone know the words to this bridge? Go!” she shouts, as the audience joins in with her shouting every single lyric at the top of their lungs.

“I’m just taking a mental picture for myself, for anytime that I’m sad. I’m going to remember all of this tonight that I got to look at on this Friday night in Melbourne! Just a few songs in and you are already making me feel phenomenal,” exclaims Swift who looks around the MCG and points at different sections of the audience to command applause. “You’re making me feel like I’m the man,” she says as she too, lets out a scream of excitement. It’s the perfect segue into The Man, which sees a full-scale office pop up on stage as Swift walks up the stairs to reach the top level to initiate her girl-boss status.

“Melbourne, welcome to the Eras Tour! If I seem a little but like I’m losing my mind over the fact that there are 96,000 people here tonight, would be because it true. This is the biggest show that we have done on this tour or any tour I have ever. So yeah, that’s the version you get of me tonight – the version that’s completely starstruck by the fact that so many of you wanted to hang out with us on a Friday night in Melbourne. I’m feeling very lucky about that,” she blushes.

Swift continues to take us on an adventure spanning 18 years of music, one era at a time. “There are songs that I may have written about my feelings, my life, or maybe an imaginary story I came up with in my mind or maybe that’s what you think about when you hear these songs out in the world. But here’s my goal; that after tonight when you hear these songs, you’re going to think about the memories we made here tonight Melbourne. My name is Taylor, I’ll be your host this evening. Thank you for joining us on the Eras tour,” she cries.

The stage lights up in a golden glow as sparks fall from stage to signify the changeover to the Fearless era. “Alright Melbourne, you ready to go back to high school with me?” Swift asks as her band joins her on stage for You Belong With Me. She strums along with a dazzling bejewelled guitar and shakes off some iconic dance moves from the era that skyrocketed her to mainstream success with Love Story.

Swift manages to hold our attention even when she’s not on the stage because we’re captivated while her stage transforms before our eyes from one era to the next. Woods grow out of the stage as we’re drawn deep into the forest for evermore and Swift reappears taking centre stage behind a moss-covered piano positioned in front a massive oak tree backdrop. The mood becomes more relaxed and mellow as she dives into some softer indie-folk. As willow strikes up, her dancers join her for a magical display in dark cloaks with mystical glowing orange orbs.

champagne problems concludes and the audience lets out an endless applause leaving Swift speechless, stopping for a moment to take it all in. “I really missed coming to Australia, I gotta say. It’s just on another level. You realise how loud you’ve been singing tonight? That’s on a whole other planet of volume,” she declares.

“Last time I was in Melbourne, it was 2018, it was the Reputation tour. When I came up for the idea of this tour, I wanted everyone to feel like we made the show for you – whether you’re new here or you’ve been hanging out with me for like 15 years,” Swift explains. Since her last visit before the pandemic, she has released 4 albums, so she’s had to think outside the box with this tour to include a bit of everything here tonight dividing her set into each different era.

We continue our trip down memory lane with her for the Reputation era as snake imagery swirls around the stage and he energy intensifies for the heavy-hitting sounds of revenge-fuelled anthems including …Ready for It? and Look What You Made Me Do. Swift’s backup dancers perform in glass doll boxes dressed in outfits inspired by her previous looks from her music videos over the years.

The grounds become bathed in a purple light for the Speak Now era which is the shortest section of the set including only 2 songs but delivered with a beautiful elegance. Swift wears a stunning purple gown for Enchanted and Long Live that provides a sweeping calm over the audience for a heartfelt moment.

The Red era quickly livens up the show again kicking off with 22 with plenty of fun dancing and Swift makes her way down to the front of the runway to gift a lucky girl her bowler hat and share a special embrace. “Are you having fun in the Red Era? ‘Cos there’s just one more song I was hoping to play if you’ve got about 10 minutes to spare?” She asks before we settle in for the epic 10-minute version of her critically acclaimed All Too Well with just her acoustic guitar in hand and she belts out the emotional song for us to get lost in her captivating storytelling that has the audience singing along and hanging on to every breath. We’re treated to a surprise snow confetti that falls from above at the climax of the song.

An A-frame cabin pops up on stage to welcome us to the Folklore era. “Folklore is an album I’m always going to be so proud of because it’s fun when I get to challenge myself and make something different and I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do that because every time I challenge myself and make something new and different, you guys accept it. I accept the challenge and I appreciate the belief you have in me when I switch lanes because it’s what keeps it fun for me,” Swift reveals.

Folklore is a perfect example of when Swift did this and historically, she’s tended to write autobiographical songs about her own life and her own feelings. But with Folklore she decided to escape into a new world where she created characters. betty is at the centre of the story arc where she sings about three teenagers who fall in love, hurt each other, and ask for forgiveness. Swift moves through the forest cabin as we get lost with her in the fictional woodland world she dreamt up during quarantine.

The stage design constantly keeps changing and Swift and her entourage of dancers utilize each and every section. We enter a glowing city with bright lights for the 1989 era kicking off with Style and includes some of her biggest hits including Blank Space and Shake It Off as she parades around in a glittery pink two-piece outfit. Her dancers bring neon glowing bikes out on stage to ride around for the super-changed energetic performance. Flames shoot up from the stage on Bad Blood and we can feel the heat of our skin as the sky ignites.

We reach the most anticipated part of the set as Swift appears at the end of the stage wearing a flowing bright yellow dress. “Evey night I do two different songs – ones that are not part of the set list and it’s just really fun. I get to have this moment every single day picking those songs for that particular crowd and hoping that makes you happy. So, tonight I’m going to do one of my favourite ones,” she shares as the crowd screams with excitement, and she begins to play her first surprise song (Red) on acoustic guitar.

“I’m very excited for April 19th because my new album, The Tortured Poets Department will be out and I cannot wait for you to hear all those songs then. It’s an album that I think more than any of my albums that I’ve made that I needed to make it. It was a lifeline for me – the things I was going through, the things I was writing about it. It kind of reminded me of why songwriting is something that actually gets me through my life, and I’ve never had an album where I needed it more than on Tortured Poets,” Swift reveals. She looks to the screen behind her to show us an alternate version of the album cover that no one has ever seen before until now. She also shares some exciting news that there’s an exclusive song on this vinyl edition called The Bolter. She continues to play at a piano covered in colourful flower decals with a song never played live before (You’re Losing Me).

The Midnights era finishes off the non-stop setlist as it’s her most recent new material, bringing high-energy pop with tracks Lavendar Haze, Anti-Hero and Bejewelled. “I’m never going to forget tonight, you are unbelievable,” Swift shouts. We have time for one more (Karma) which serves as the last song in her 45-song set list that brings the show to close after three-and-a-half hours. Fireworks set off to culminate her first Australian show of The Eras Tour for her biggest show to date.

Words by Michael Prebeg

Melbourne night 1 setlist:

Lover era
Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince
Cruel Summer
The Man
You Need to Calm Down
The Archer

Fearless era
You Belong With Me
Love Story
’tis the damn season
champagne problems
tolerate it

Reputation era
…Ready for It?
Don’t Blame Me
Look What You Made Me Do

Speak Now era
Long Live

Red era
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
I Knew You Were Trouble
All Too Well

Folklore era
the 1
the last great american dynasty
illicit affairs
my tears ricochet

1989 era
Blank Space
Shake It Off
Wildest Dreams
Bad Blood

Acoustic surprises
You’re Losing Me

Lavender Haze
Midnight Rain
Vigilante Shit


Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour – Melbourne N1 Fri 16 Feb – live imagesPhoto Credit: TAS Rights Management

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