Last night I saw about 65 minutes’ worth of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour, which runs 169 minutes. You can’t say I didn’t man up, buy the popcorn and give it the old college try. I didn’t hate it but it didn’t hook my heart or elevate my soul, and the more Swift sang and waved and strummed and strutted around and gave it up for her adoring, beaming and even tearful fans, the flatter I felt within.
As concert films go The Eras Tour is quite the visual power-punch (first-rate photography, editing, choreography, lighting design plus considerable personal charm and audience rapport) but aside from the fan-rapture aspect (95% younger white women) Swift’s act just doesn’t levitate. Or at least it didn’t in my situation.
I swear to God I sat down with an attitude of “okay, I’m here…let’s do it!” But it just didn’t connect.
Swift doesn’t have the greatest singing voice (it’s okay) and her country music origins put a damper on things. Her songs are rather flat and pop–fizzy and lacking in catchy, inventive hooks…they all kinda sound the same…no rivers of soul (not even streams of it)…confessional lyrics (ruptured romances, shitty boyfriends) but rendered without much in the way of edge or unusual style or anything “extra”…imbued with an unmistakably bland, girly–girl current, and a general lack of sophistication or complexity.
Swift is no Joni Mitchell-in-her-prime. Her songs seem to lack depth and intrigue.
I was engaged and studying the spectacle (which is fascinating in some respects) for the first half-hour but starting around the 45-minute mark I began to feel narcotized and then drained.
I nonetheless respect Swift’s energy and verve and swagger, and the Beatles-like following that she’s acquired over the last 16 or 17 years.
I was collecting my reactions in the AMC Westport lobby when a Manhattan-based journalist who’d also escaped at the one-hour mark (he’d been sitting two seats to my left) came over and said howdy. He’d been unable to snag a ticket to any Thursday night Manhattan showing and decided that a show in Connecticut was his best option.
We chewed things over for a half-hour or so. He felt roughly as I did about the film. “What’s the essence of Swift’s appeal?,” he asked. “Power,” I said. “The Swifties relate to who she is and where she’s been, and are really getting off on the bold persona and image…she’s a heroic figure in their eyes. It ties in, I think, with the Barbie explosion on some level.”
He had taken a Metro North train and then Uber-ed to the theatre, but didn’t want to see any more of the film. So I gave him a lift to the East Norwalk train station. Nice guy.
A respectful hat tip lo Eras Tour director Sam Wrench, director of photography Brett Turnbull and editor Don Whitworth.
Shot last August at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium over a period of three nights, The Eras Tour is indisputably a huge cultural and commercial phenomenon. Swift-produced, Swift-starring, Swift-distributed (straight to AMC and Cinemark) and sure to pull down God knows how many hundreds of millions.
Everyone did a great job. It just wasn’t for me.
Friendo: “You’ve offered a reality-based corrective. The media is offering her a rubber-stamp rave. I think she’s got a number of very good songs like ‘Mean’, ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ and ‘Shake It Off’ and — possibly her greatest — ‘Lover’.
“But you have to watch what you say if you have young daughters. You can’t come down on Taylor too hard, but I think her war against men is deplorable. And fundamental to her appeal. But I can’t say that in mixed company.”
HE: “I give her football player boyfriend (Travis Kelce) another couple of months. Okay, five or six months total.”
Friendo: “These men are just momentary accessories to her. Her message is basically ‘fuck men — they suck and we don’t need them’. In that sense, she’s doing her own bit to bring Trump back. All woke behaviors help the other side. Because the majority of people don’t want to vote for psychosis.”