Analysis | Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour opener: A complete recap of all 44 songs
At Friday’s opening night show, Swift provided the answer to around 70,000 people at State Farm Stadium: She would play for three hours. (Technically, around 3 hours and 10 minutes, as she divided her albums into brief segments and played either full length or condensed versions of more than 40 songs.)
Here’s a complete recap of the set list for the show, which really did live up to the hype after causing a complete Ticketmaster meltdown.
The “Lover” era (2019)
1) “Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince”
Even though this was an album cut that doesn’t get much attention among fans, it contains an ideal opening line for the first song: “It’s been a long time coming.” Backup dancers carried enormous pastel-colored parachutes and all floated together in a circle before lifting up the fabric to reveal Swift center stage, where she was clad in the first of many sparkly bodysuits and jewel-encrusted knee-high boots she would wear over the course of the evening.
This upbeat pop track was destined to become a summertime smash in 2020 until, well, you know. Fans have been obsessed with it ever since, even though it never became a radio single and Swift never performed it live, until now. One look around the stadium revealed multiple people openly weeping.
Swift casually slid into a business professional sequin jacket as the set transformed into a drab office space, similar to the music video, as she sang about how people would take her much more seriously if she were a dude.
4) “You Need to Calm Down”
This single and music video, a celebration of gay rights and ignoring the haters, was somewhat controversial and resulted in debates about whether Swift centered herself too much in a song that was supposed to be about being an ally. But Swift still belted out a few lines, including the much-discussed lyric, “Shade never made anybody less gay!”
The audience roared as Swift strolled out with her guitar and explained to the crowd that they were about to go on an adventure through the 17 years of her career — and even though there would be plenty of material about breakups, this was a “good old-fashioned love song.”
Swift walked slowly down a gigantic catwalk that took her into the middle of the stadium for the final song from this era, a low-key ballad with lyrics about her insecurities.
The “Fearless” era (2008)
As gold sparks rained down, Swift took a quick pivot back to her breakout country album, wearing a gold fringe dress and boots that defined her style in the early days of Nashville.
8) “You Belong With Me”
It was pandemonium when Swift broke out one of her first country singles that became an international hit. The crowd really lost it for the famous tale of a high school love triangle, especially with the signature lyric: “She wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts / She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers.”
The inclusion of this one was a given. Swift’s career-making song from a time when she romanticized the idea of happily-ever-after love stories closed out the second phase of the concert.
The “Evermore” era (2020)
10) “Tis the Damn Season”
Swifties have a running bit that “Evermore” is the “forgotten child” — it never got the same attention as its sister pandemic album (and Grammy album of the year winner) “Folklore.” But Swift jokingly insisted onstage that “Evermore” is “an album I absolutely love despite what some of you might say on TikTok.” She changed into a burnt orange gold autumnal gown, kicking things off with a song about hooking up with an ex over the holidays.
Swift threw on an emerald cape for her “dancing witch” version of the album’s opening track, surrounded by backup dancers holding glowing orbs.
She slowed things down with an emotional ballad about her late grandmother, Marjorie Finlay, an opera singer whom Swift frequently invokes in interviews when asked if singing runs in her family.
13) “Champagne Problems”
TikTok users have been begging Swift to include this in the set list so they could hear a stadium crowd sing their favorite line: “She would have made such a lovely bride, what a shame she’s f—– in the head.” She indulged them while sitting at a moss-covered piano.
A rather soul-crushing ballad about being in love with someone who simply just tolerates you, Swift showed off some acting chops as she sang and sat across a table from one of her backup dancers, and looked devastated as he acted like he wanted nothing to do with her.
The “Reputation” era (2017)
15) “ … Ready For It?”
Swift released “Reputation” in the aftermath of the biggest backlash of her career, her “feud” with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, who declared Swift a “snake.” At the time, people were startled with her image upon the album’s rollout, with Swift glowering and mad and wearing dark lipstick. It was somewhat divisive at the time, but many fans have decided that the album — which starts with this bass-heavy track — is one of her best. Of course, Swift wore a one-legged slithering snake-themed ensemble.
Fans were eager to hear this sleeper hit because of one of many of their inexplicable inside jokes with the singer; at one point in the song, when she pauses, people like to yell, “1, 2, 3, let’s go b—-!” Indeed, they screamed it here.
17) “Don’t Blame Me”
This is the go-to powerhouse where Swift gets to show off her vocals in a way that shuts down critics who still insist she can’t sing.
18) “Look What You Made Me Do”
The music video for this single was essentially a mini Eras Tour — Swift dressed up as different versions of herself and mocked the mean things people were saying about her. This time, a somewhat terrifying screen showed dozens of Swifts and backup dancers dressed up like her were trapped in boxes.
The “Speak Now” era (2010)
Swift conspiracy theorists, speak now — why did she only include one song from her third album? And just an album cut? Swift stayed true to the very sparkly and dramatic era by wearing an elaborate ballgown for this briefest era of the night.
Swift just turned 33, but she had a blast reminiscing about being “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time” in her early 20s. She wore a twist on her famous T-shirt from the music video that read “Not a lot going on at the moment.”
21) “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
Swift let one of her dancers deliver the two words at the end of the spoken-word bridge about how she and her paramour were never, ever getting back together: “Like, ever.”
22) “I Knew You Were Trouble”
Swift only played a condensed version of this one, but it’s important to include your first dubstep song in a tour looking back at your musical eras.
23) “All Too Well (10 Minute Version)”
Swift is rerecording her first six albums after a dispute with her former Nashville record label, and that included an updated version of critical and fan favorite “All Too Well.” Though Swift — who changed into a dramatic red jacket — has performed it live a couple of times before, including on SNL, hearing around 70,000 people scream “YOU CALL ME UP AGAIN JUST TO BREAK ME LIKE A PROMISE, SO CASUALLY CRUEL IN THE NAME OF BEING HONEST” was something else.
The “Folklore” era (2020)
24) “Invisible String”
Dressed in an ethereal pink gown, Swift sprawled across the top of a small cabin. It was the perfect visual to kick off the portion of the show for her cottagecore album and for this dreamy song about the relief of finding your soul mate.
Swift noted that her albums are typically “excruciatingly autobiographical” so it was fun to make up characters for “Folklore” — and this one included her favorite genre of song, where she teaches men how to apologize for behaving badly.
26) “The Last Great American Dynasty”
The backup dancers were out in full force like a ballroom scene out of “Bridgerton” for this story based on the life of Rebekah Harkness, the heiress who drove her neighbors crazy by hosting wild parties at her waterfront mansion in Rhode Island.
This was a real scream-along with the audience, a song about a couple of teenagers who are having a summer fling — complicated by the fact that the boy happens to already have a girlfriend. This led right into …
28) “Illicit Affairs”
… a pain-filled ballad from a woman who is tired of being a mistress. Swift collapsed on the floor at the end of this one.
29) “My Tears Ricochet”
Perhaps the most solemn moment of the night came during one of the slowest and most melancholy tracks from “Folklore.”
Swift peeled herself up off the floor and returned to the small cabin for this piano-centric song about finding coziness in a relationship, as images of fireflies lit up the top of the huge screen.
The “1989” era (2014)
This was really when Swift became a pop megastar, and this is the song where the singer showed off her best catwalk strut on the 1989 Tour — only back then, this was the moment she would invite her celebrity friends onstage with her.
The backup dancers got to ride around on bicycles and pretend to destroy a car with golf clubs in this smash hit that Swift wrote as a satire about how she’s covered by the media. (As an “insane” boy-crazy “nightmare dressed as a daydream.”)
Swift’s biggest global hit, this was just a big dance party onstage with practically the whole crew.
This yearning ballad certainly had the most PG-13 rated video on the big screen, briefly showing a glimpse of a couple tangled up in some sheets.
Famously suspected to be about her one-time frenemy Katy Perry, Swift had a lot of fun running around the stage as random streams of fire burst out around the stadium.
This deeply introspective tune is actually on “Folklore,” and Swift broke out an acoustic guitar to play it. She said she will play a new song in this spot of the set list every night of the tour — unless she messes it up and wants to try it again in another city.
The “Taylor Swift” era (2006)
Finally, all the way back to her self-titled first album — or “Debut,” as the kids call it — and her first big hit on country radio.
The “Midnights” era (2022)
For the final and most recent era, Swift pulled off quite the trick where she acted like she was diving into the center part of the stage and then swimming back to the front of the house. As the audience puzzled over that, backup dancers carried out clouds and Swift reemerged in her shiniest dress of the night underneath a purple fur coat as the synth-pop beat started over her latest single.
As real Swift danced around the stage, a fake Swift towered over her on the screen, threatening to destroy a city. (Fitting with the oft-quoted lyric, “Sometimes it feels like everybody is a sexy baby, and I’m a monster on the hill.”)
The backup dancers went all in with umbrellas for a very literal interpretation of this swoony midtempo song where Swift reflects on a relationship gone awry because one person was too nice and the other wanted drama.
The audience went wild over Swift participating in a chair dance, in a song all about her beloved quest for vengeance on someone who wronged her.
“I polish up real nice!” Swift sings brightly, and for a show that already had tons of sequins and sparkles, this song offered another explosion of gems and diamond imagery on the big screen.
Swift does not like to be called “calculating,” but on this fast-paced track she takes credit for her work, winkingly asking: “What if none of it was accidental?” To drive home this idea, the bottom of the stage turned into a chessboard.
Swift closed things out with her favorite topic besides revenge: Karma. She piled a sequin fringe jacket on top of her bedazzled costume as she gleefully sang about how “Karma is a cat purring in my lap cause it loves me,” before fireworks exploded and confetti shot from the ceilings, falling down on to the fans who were losing their minds.