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Review: Taylor Swift sparkles with honest, ‘Red’ emotion at Columbus tour stop

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Andrew Bruening / For The Lantern

Andrew Bruening / For The Lantern

It’s easy to be infatuated with Taylor Swift.

There’s a bubblegum pop, girl-next-door aura about her that makes you smile when she smiles. When she took the stage at Nationwide Arena Wednesday night, some 14,000 people were mesmerized by her, and in turn she was struck by them.

She looked out into the crowd, a red lipstick-stained, close-lipped smile paired with eyes crinkling with joy, and soaked it in.

Swift’s Columbus “The Red Tour” stop kicked off in dramatic fashion with a luxurious red curtain first concealing her, showing only her silhouette, then dropping to reveal the singer, who began with “State of Grace.”

Her set included the majority of the songs from her 2012 album “Red” and never
slowed down. Fireworks erupted during “Sparks Fly,” from her 2010 album “Speak Now,” and on more than one occasion the singer sailed over the crowd on raised platforms. One dreamlike scene pitted her dancers as wind-up toys wandering out of a music box.

The performance involved elaborate set changes that kept the audience concurrently hooked and guessing. Her nearly two-hour set included trips to a circus, Paris, a carousel and the red carpet. Swift played roles from Shakespeare’s Juliet to a circus ringleader to a 1960s movie star while her dancers posed as ballerinas, stilt-walkers and paparazzi.

One of the coolest moments came from a montage of Swift over the years, as told from family videos of her at nearly every age from 1 to 22, being held by her parents, receiving a guitar on Christmas, singing the National Anthem and performing old songs. When the count reached 22, Swift took the stage with her backup dancers to appropriately perform her anthem “22” from “Red.”

Throughout the show her honesty was perhaps her greatest strength. The way Swift looked at the audience with genuine wonderment, as if she couldn’t believe the sold-out crowd was there for her, personalized the show. When she took to the piano and sang “All Too Well,” passion and power resonated from her every slashing note, bang of the piano keys and thrash of her head, which sent her hair into a wild frenzy.

Moments of the show seemed to be more of an intimate look into her world — as if she was twirling around in her room or being candid with her closest friends, rather than being center stage surrounded by screaming fans.

In a performance full of theatrics and drama, her shining moments came from a culmination of songs she played alone on the guitar, including “Our Song,” which she introduced as having premiered at her ninth grade talent show. The song rips at the heartstrings of older, nostalgic fans and was a worthy complement to her newer material that strays from her country roots.

But Swift sparkled — at times literally with red sequined outfits and matching glittering red guitars — throughout, showing off a range from the combination of violin introduction paired with a dubstep interlude in “I Knew You Were Trouble” to a Motown-infused version of “You Belong With Me.”

Between songs, she explained her infatuation of the color red, revealing that it encompasses her favorite emotions, the crazy ones, ranging from anger to love. This was among multiple monologues she recited, which sounded like her own way of pointing a middle finger at her critics.

“Someone is going to pick on you for something and make you feel small,” she said. “My way of dealing with it was sitting down and writing a song about it.”

Later, she admitted that she “has a lot of feelings” and that many revolve around her breakups (shocking) but that she likes it that way.

“I like writing songs about breakups because they make me feel better, OK?” Swift said to the crowd before launching into “Stay Stay Stay.”

Along those lines, she left the audience with some advice during her final song, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

“Don’t get back together with your crazy ex.”

Reading the tabloids, you might call her crazy. Seeing her onstage, though, might change your
mind.

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