“Seventeen years of music, one era at a time.” That’s how pop superstar Taylor Swift pitches The Eras Tour, her biggest project to date. While that simple description acts as a neat summary, it doesn’t come close to capturing the sheer scale and ambition involved here. A triumphant homage to all of Swift’s albums, from her 2006 self-titled debut to her most recent effort Midnights, The Eras Tour tells the story of one of the most influential figures of the 21st century.
Tickets for the actual gigs were like gold dust, so Swift and co. decided to do something special for the fans. Filmed over three nights during the tour’s US leg, this concert movie brings the experience to millions via the big screen. That alone is something to be celebrated, making a once-in-a-lifetime moment accessible for those unable to attend IRL, whether for financial, health or other reasons. Swift thanks her fans, saying: “This is all because of you and for you.” It’s a statement we’ve heard countless times from other stars, but here rings true.
As Swift takes us through nearly two decades’ worth of music, her incredible range is highlighted like never before. From the country-pop sounds of Fearless to the edgy Reputation to the indie-folk tones of Folklore, the set-list is impressively varied, fully justifying the nearly three-hour runtime. In fact, it could’ve been longer; though we get banger after banger, a few favourites are missing like Exile, State of Grace, New Romantics… (some tracks from the tour are also MIA, such as Cardigan).
Still, every era is vividly brought to life, with dazzling staging that reflects the mood of each album. While the folky Evermore section takes us to the woodlands (cue a piano covered in leaves), the more upbeat 1989 segment sees Swift and her superb dancers smash up a digital car.
The attention to detail is remarkable; even the microphones are changed to suit each era. The performers go all out for energetic songs such as Shake If Off, which will have viewers desperate to jump up and boogie, while quieter ballads are more stripped-back affairs. Seeing Swift alone on the stage for a 10-minute take on All Too Well - often hailed as her best work - is especially powerful, hitting you right in the tear ducts.
It’s an emotional film full stop, giving us an intimate look at Swift and her experience of these massive gigs. Though we don’t go behind the scenes - this is very much a concert movie rather than a documentary - director Sam Wrench doesn’t skimp on close-ups of the star, who’s clearly blown away by the crowd’s response. Swift takes it all in, eyes often filling with tears, face dripping with beads of sweat (that iconic red lipstick stays intact throughout, though). The result is an honest portrait of an artist who, despite being captured at the height of her powers, still has significant vulnerabilities.
But what if you’re not a Taylor Swift fan? Naturally, the less familiar you are with her music, the less you’ll likely get out of this movie. All the same, you don’t need to be a Swiftie to admire the astonishing staging, endless creativity, and the spectacle of an artist giving her all.
And despite this being The Eras Tour, running through Swift’s greatest hits, you can’t help feeling at the end that the surface has only been scratched; that this is an ever-evolving musician who still has quite the journey ahead of her. Here’s to the next era…
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is in cinemas now.