ENTERTAINMENT
23/06/2018 10:05 BST | Updated 23/06/2018 10:18 BST

Taylor Swift's Show Is At Its Best When She Forgets Her 'Reputation' And Just Has Some Fun: HuffPost Verdict

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Dave Hogan/TAS18 via Getty Images

K E Y   P O I N T S

  • Taylor Swift brought her ‘Reputation’ world tour to London on Friday, for the first of two nights at Wembley Stadium
  • The setlist consisted mostly of tracks taken from her latest album, ‘Reputation’, though several older songs also made the cut
  • ‘Reputation’ is Taylor’s most elaborate tour to date, featuring giant oversized snakes (a nod to her past feuds with Kim Kardashian) and flashy videos to accompany each performance
  • In the lead-up to the show, there were many reports on the fact Taylor had failed to sell out her UK shows, which the BBC put down to her hefty ticket prices
  • Fellow pop stars Charli XCX and Camila Cabello served as support acts on the night, while Niall Horan joined her on stage for a surprise duet of ‘Slow Hands’

S N A P   V E R D I C T

OK, let’s get this out of the way first.

No, Taylor Swift’s first London date on her ‘Reputation’ world tour was not sold out.

Yes, there were a few dots of red in the crowd at Wembley Stadium where excited fans should have been, and as her opening music (Mariah Carey’s ‘Obsessed’, sending up her ‘Mean Girl’ reputation and Joan Jett’s ‘Bad Reputation’, for obvious reasons) blared out, you couldn’t help thinking that if ticket prices hadn’t been quite so steep, maybe the discourse around this tour wouldn’t have been quite so centred around the fact the show wasn’t a sell-out.

That being said, the fans who were there - decked out in home-made Taylor t-shirts, carrying ‘Queen Of My Heart’ and ‘You’re So Gorgeous’ signs and singing along at the top of their voices to even the deepest of album cuts - brought such a sense of excitement into the stadium with them that you couldn’t possibly complain about there not being an atmosphere.

Towards the end of piano ballad ‘New Year’s Day’, Taylor paused for effect, and fans applauded, cheered and eventually stamped their feet for a full two and a half minutes, while the singer looked genuinely dumbfounded. “I’m so happy,” she said. “I don’t even know what to say because I’m so happy.”

Anyone who cares enough to read a review of a Taylor Swift show already knows her strengths and weaknesses: her voice isn’t as powerful as some of her peers, her choreography doesn’t tend to venture beyond a few hip-swivels, a couple of extended reaches out to the audience and some hair-grabbing for good measure, and she does have a tendency to deliver platitudes about her ‘reputation’ that in a 90,000-capacity stadium she’s probably the only person that truly relates to.

But where the ‘Reputation’ tour really thrives is spectacle. This is Taylor’s sleekest and most professional show yet, complete with giant inflatable snakes for ‘Shake It Off’, a golden “tilted stage” and serpent throne for ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ and even a fireworks display on the roof of the stadium in the finale. For those who did fork out for tickets, at least there’s comfort in seeing that it looks like their money has been well spent.

As for the performance aspect, the show is at its most enjoyable when Taylor looks like she’s having the most fun, whether that’s strutting her stuff on ‘Reputation’ fan-favourite ‘Getaway Car’, fooling around with special guest Niall Horan on ‘Slow Hands’ (stars to join her on stage in other cities so far include Selena Gomez, Troye Sivan and Shawn Mendes) or splashing around in a fountain with her dancers in the Kanye-bashing show-closer ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’.

Now she’s got this business about her “reputation” off her chest (something fans never cared about, and casual listeners moved on from a long time ago), hopefully these more playful moments are the ones Taylor will lead with next time she hits the road, because when she truly shone at Wembley were when it looked the least like she was “trying”, and simply enjoying herself.

S E T L I S T

1. ‘...Ready For It?’

2. ‘I Did Something Bad’

3. ‘Gorgeous’

4. ‘Style’

5. ‘Love Story’/‘You Belong With Me’

6. ‘Look What You Made Me Do’

7. ‘End Game’

8. ‘King Of My Heart’

9. ‘Delicate’

10. ‘Shake It Off’ (with Camilla Cabello and Charli XCX)

11. ‘Dancing With Our Hands Tied’

12. ‘So It Goes’ (first time performed live on tour)

13. ‘Blank Space’

14. ‘Dress’

15. ‘Bad Blood’/‘Should’ve Said No’

16. ‘Don’t Blame Me’

17. ‘Long Live’

18. ‘New Year’s Day’

19. ‘Getaway Car’

20. ‘Slow Hands’ (with Niall Horan)

21. ‘Call It What You Want’

22. ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’/‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’

T A K E   H O M E  M E S S A G E

The knives were out for Taylor Swift before she’d even set foot on stage, but with her latest tour, she should hopefully have set a few naysayers straight.

Hopefully, now she’s exorcised the demons of her “reputation”, she can leave this part of her narrative in the past, because this show is at its strongest when its star allows herself to just let her hair down and have fun.