By Eddino Abdul Hadi
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
All hail the queen of good girl pop, and her name is Taylor Swift.
There is no going over the edge or crossing the line for the 24-year-old, as she showed in her return to the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Monday night, the same venue she played in back in 2011.
This time, Swift is a little bit older and while it might be two years overdue, the song 22, taken from her latest album Red, best summed up her show - never mind cool kids and hipsters, "everything will be alright / If we just keep dancing like we're 22". Decent as she may seem, she is not quite the ingenue - if all the stories of heartbreak and boys who have done her wrong are to be believed, Swift has gone through enough relationships to last her two cycles of young adulthood.
Besides the fairy-tale gowns and flowy dresses, Swift also pulled off hotpants for a couple of costume changes. Still, there was no ramping up her sexuality a la Miley or all around kookiness a la Gaga - Taylor would want you to know she's your regular girl with tons of feelings to cope with, and at the same time always ready to go have fun and hang out with her girlfriends at the drop of a hat.
There was nothing ordinary about her stage show though. As expected of one of the world's best-selling young adult pop stars, there was an air of grandiosity throughout the 85-minute long set. Red is not just the title of the tour - it is the predominant colour scheme favoured by Swift for her double-storey stage, the visuals and videos on her giant LED screen backdrop and multiple costume changes.
While her seven-piece band pumped up the volume on the music, the singer also brought in her large posse of backing singers and dancers, whose own elaborate costumes and tendency to bounce around all over the stage was equal parts Broadway and circus act.
There was a little too much red glitter though - even her electric guitars were not spared. Musically, little is left of her country roots, save for Mean, a tune that won her not one, but two Grammys, for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.
She swung her banjo low when performing that tune. And while she had an unplugged segment with just her voice and an acoustic guitar on a secondary stage nearer to the audience at the back, most of the tunes were unabashed, hook-filled pop.
She flirted with dubstep and danced wildly on I Knew You Were Trouble, while showcloser We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together was a bombastic anthem with Swift dressed like a glittery ringmaster.
Amazingly, her blonde tresses stayed silky smooth even after she started headbanging as she sang and played the piano on All Too Well. All the picture-perfect close-ups of her on the giant screens showed nary a hair out of place, and she hardly broke into a sweat during her agile and synchronised dance moves.
Judging from the almost non-stop screaming from the pre-teen and teenage audience, Swift's set was spot-on in getting the approval from the young and impressionable crowd, most of whom were girls.
Despite being added as a second show only a few weeks ago, the stadium was packed. Monday's gig was added after her Bangkok show was cancelled due to the implementation of martial law in Thailand, and Taylor will perform at the Indoor Stadium again on Thursday, her original date here.
She had plenty of monologues for the crowd - how excited she was to be in Singapore because it was the country that her mother grew up in, how she never really fit in when she was younger but it is all okay because it inspired her to write songs.
She even had a custom-made "I Love Singapore" top to make the fans feel special. Is the nice girl persona all just an act?
The answer would be - who cares? She put on a big, entertaining show, and for a pop gig, that is all that matters.
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