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Taylor Swift live in London: The Eras Tour sets a new bar for stadium shows

The tour of the decade finally hit London last night, with in-depth lore for superfans and dazzling production value.

5.0 rating

By Will Richards

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift performing at London's Wembley Stadium on June 21, 2024 (Picture: Aaron Parsons for Rolling Stone UK)

When Taylor Swift released her soft, folky pair of 2020 lockdown albums – Folklore and Evermore – it was reasonable to think she was slowly exiting her maximalist pop star phase and settling into her thirties with less yearning for the spotlight.

Instead, in the four years since the albums’ release, she has put out six more albums, including four as part of an ongoing re-recording series, and become more of an omnipresent cultural force than ever before.

With the most dedicated and rabid fanbase on earth behind her, Swift’s mantra of late has been that more is better, and it’s served her both for better and for worse. On the downside, it bloated her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, to an unnecessary 31 songs, but it’s also led her to The Eras Tour, one of the decade’s biggest cultural moments so far.

Very, very few artists could pull off a show of this scale and with this framing – 10 of her 11 albums are given their own section of this Wembley Stadium show with bespoke staging, outfits and moods – but Swift has the dedication and adoration of a legion of fans (as well as the money) to dive deep into her own lore and put on a mesmerising show which never goes at less than 100mph.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift performing at London’s Wembley Stadium on June 21, 2024 (Picture: Aaron Parsons for Rolling Stone UK)

For Folklore and Evermore, Swift sits atop a mossy cabin, while the new Tortured Poets Department section sees her go full Broadway, reanimated from a slumber by her effervescent backing dancers – dressed as mimes – before album highlight ‘I Can Do It with a Broken Heart’. If there were worries that these three albums may not translate to stadium environments, once again it’s her fans that carry her through. Even the most delicate, intimate tracks – Evermore’s ‘Marjorie’ in particular – are screamed back at her fervently, with little to no disconnect as a result. Though a Swift tour of theatres performing Folklore and Evermore is still an enticing prospect, the songs more than hold their own on this vast scale.

As well as a marvel of songwriting and creativity, The Eras Tour is also astonishing for Swift’s pure stamina. Though she exits the stage for costume changes in between each era, she is rarely out of view for more than a minute at a time across the three-and-a-half hour show, before popping up and gliding her way across the huge stage and walkways again, never letting her voice suffer as a result. A swarm of dancers surround her at all times, inhabiting her past selves excellently: it makes for a brilliant feat of acting as well as live performance.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift performing at London’s Wembley Stadium on June 21, 2024 (Picture: Aaron Parsons for Rolling Stone UK)

While the tour traverses all eras of Swift’s career, her more recent albums are given far more airtime. The set begins with a five-track trip through 2019’s Lover (the album she couldn’t tour due to the pandemic), and ends with 13 tracks across 2022’s Midnights and The Tortured Poets Department. While all are rapturously received, it does occasionally make for slightly uneven pacing. The resurgent hit ‘Cruel Summer’ anchors the first section of the set, but the show’s emotional apex arrives a little early with 1989’s hit-packed run of ‘Style’, ‘Blank Space’ and ‘Shake It Off’ over an hour before she finally exits the stage. Though there aren’t many casual Swift fans in attendance at all, there’s a slight sense that they may be waning in the drawn out final two eras.

By design, very little about The Eras Tour is casual though. No artist alive has the ability to dive so deep into their own lore and pull it off on such a massive scale. With countless easter eggs, a wonderful and warming culture of outfit creation, and stage production on a scale rarely seen, the tour is a cultural behemoth just like Swift. It’s hard to tell yet whether these shows will mark the end of Swift’s imperial, ubiquitous phase, but whether she retreats into the shadows now or not, this will surely go down as the apex of her startling career.