FOXBORO, Mass. — The forecast was for rain on June 5 here where over 55,000 people were driving to Gillette Stadium to see Taylor Swift on the final stop of her “Fearless” tour. But the sun finally began to peak out from behind the clouds, and by the time most of the crowd reached the home of the New England Patriots, it was the perfect weather for an outdoor summer concert.
Gloriana started off the show, followed by Kellie Pickler, who got the country fans in the audience rocking and rolling. When Pickler left, the crowd really started to fill in, all in anticipation of the one and only Justin Bieber.
It was quite a sight to see; seats that typically hold 18- to 48-year-old men were instead filled with eight- to 18-year-old girls with their moms and boyfriends. There were, however, several groups of young men who came of their own volition, who stood out like a sore thumb in a place where they would have normally blended in.
Bieber took the stage and the screaming began. Adding him to the line-up made perfect sense: every girl there wanted to be his girlfriend and Swift’s best friend. With his band and dancers wearing Patriots gear, Bieber put on a performance to be proud of.
When it was time for his single “One Less Lonely Girl,” Bieber told the audience, “Every time I go to a new city, I gotta find myself one less lonely girl,” and then pulled a braces-wearing preteen wearing his face on her shirt to serenade.
The band tended to overpower the young singer’s vocals, but Bieber took a page from his mentor Usher’s book and focused on his dance moves. He even stole some steps from MC Hammer (whose pants fit better than Bieber’s, who pulled his up every couple of steps.) His voice did stand out, however, on the slower “U Smile.”
Unfortunately for the young Bieber, his voice has begun to change, and while his low notes shined, even some of the lower high notes from his debut album were strained. That didn’t seem to matter to one young woman, who almost pulled a muscle in her neck screaming “I LOVE YOU” over and over again.
While the crowd waited for Swift to take the stage, ominous-looking clouds suddenly overtook what began as a perfect summer evening filled with beach balls and bug spray. The first drops of rain were just beginning to fall when the lights went down and Metro Station’s “Shake It” began to play while Swift’s name shined in bright lights. But as the curtain finally came up, just like that, the rain went away.
Taylor Swift was a ball of energy on stage. The two-hour set began with her singing “You Belong with Me” on a set built to look like a high school, with dancers dressed as cheerleaders and Swift herself in a band uniform. The uniform was ripped off to reveal a silver dress that sparkled and shined with a matching guitar, and everyone in the audience was hooked.
It was then that Swift made her first mistake: the extended “fan stare.” Swift’s wide-eyed innocence normally works for her, but throughout the show she would take moments and just stare while the crowd cheered - moments that extended several minutes too long. It was cute to see Swift tearing up, overcome with the experience, but it got to be a little much. But no one’s perfect.
“Foxboro, Massachusetts, I love you like I love sparkly dresses,” Swift said (clearly high praise, as sparkly dresses were the continuing theme throughout the show). “And I love you like I love burning my ex-boyfriend’s photos,” she said, eliciting cheers from the audience. Girl power was strong that night.
The high school portion of the show continued with a skit acting out one of her earlier singles, “Teardrops on My Guitar.”
“I write a lot of songs about love,” Swift said. Never has a truer statement been uttered on stage.
Swift is not a dancer like Bieber, and her second mistake of the night came in the form of several flips of her long, golden locks. It added nothing to the performance, and Swift is talented enough to not need to pretend to dance. In fact, her vocals were so strong that her backup singers did little work, with Swift taking the lead on every song from start to finish.
The crowd was entertained during set and costume changes by various distractions, the best of which was a video entitled “Crimes of Passion,” which discussed the ramifications of Swift’s songs on her male victims. Fellow country stars Tim McGraw and Tyler Hilton were among those who made cameos in the short film.
When Swift next appeared, she was deep in the middle of the crowd across the stadium where she sang for a bit before hugging as many fans as possible on her way to a raised platform in the center of the floor. This was her third mistake, for while it made for an unforgettable moment for all those fans she touched or said hello to, it dragged on for far too long.
Some of the best moments of the night came while Swift sat on the aforementioned rotating platform with just a microphone and an acoustic guitar, on top of the world. Her voice — which takes on a fuller, deeper quality in performance than it does on her albums — and none of the special effects, could stand up to the sight of tens of thousands of glow sticks, cell phones and camera flashes, whipped out at Taylor’s request.
Sure, her makeup was a bit too pronounced and her hair wasn’t picture perfect, but Taylor Swift in concert was exactly what you’d expect her to be: a 20-year-old princess full of happy tears, brimming over with love for her fans and more than her fair share of honest-to-goodness talent. A 13 (Swift’s lucky number) imprinted on her hand, she was the luckiest girl in the world that night, and she knew it.
Returning to the stage, the show took a turn. There are two types of love, Swift told the audience — the kind that’s a “fairytale,” and the kind that’s “just another lesson in life.” She took to a grand piano in a cloud of smoke and embraced her dark side, singing “You’re Not Sorry” as several electric guitars wailed along. She mixed in a cover of Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around,” and was surprisingly spectacular for a young woman as peppy and upbeat as herself.
After a few more numbers, Swift disappeared to do yet another costume change for the encore, and a power-hungry applause lover took to the stage, leading the crowd in an organized scream fest that lasted a good deal longer than necessary.
A three-song encore began with Taylor, now in a Patriots jersey, singing “Today Was A Fairytale.” Finally, it began to rain … confetti hearts. After playing “Jump Then Fall,” a song Swift explained she’d always wished she’d been able to play on the “Fearless” tour, she made it pour, but only on herself. Water cascaded from the ceiling onto Swift, wearing a sleek black dress, the word “no” projected on the water as she sang “Should’ve Said No.”
Swift stood there, wet, singing of being scorned (a la Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”), and held up her hands in the shape of a heart. And so the tour ended, in front of 55,000 of her “closest friends,” in a manner befitting of the princess of country and pop music.
There didn’t seem to be a disappointed person in the place. What’s more, she stopped the rain – how many pop stars do you think can do that?