Taylor Swift lights up Rupp Arena



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By Dan Bodden

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A sea of glowing bracelets. A rising catwalk revolving and gliding around the crowd. A troupe of muscular male dancers surrounding a tall blonde effortlessly belting out the lyrics to smash hit after smash hit.

Taylor Swift was back in Lexington on Tuesday night.

The pop icon performed to a sold-out crowd of 18,000 at Rupp Arena as part of her 1989 World Tour. Vance Joy, most famous for his hit song “Riptide,” opened for Swift.

Swift performed 12 of the 16 songs from “1989” and performed other fan favorites from previous albums throughout the show. Older songs from her country phase, including “Fifteen” and “Love Story,” were reinvented with the pop treatment as Swift showcased her committed switch to a new genre with her fifth studio album.

“I like her new style, but I thought it was also cool that she added some of the old stuff back into it, where she came from, where she got her start,” said Ryan Alexander, a horticulture junior. “She used to do more country-style stuff and she brought a little of that into the new style she does.”

The show featured a lengthy catwalk that allowed Swift to walk among the crowd during portions of the show. The catwalk’s capability to rise and spin was utilized throughout the show in order for Swift to interact with audience members who were further away.

Glowing bracelets synchronized to flash set colors to the beat of each song were given to every audience member. According to Swift, this was done intentionally so she could see each individual crowd member.

“I thought she was really engaged with the crowd more than other artists I’ve seen,” Alexander said. “She was really into making you feel like you were part of the concert. I thought the catwalk was awesome.”

At one point, before singing “Clean,” Swift encouraged the audience to remain authentic and spoke against cyberbullying. She told the crowd, “There’s something more important than being cool. It’s being happy.”

“I did notice that her speech she gave tonight was different,” said Sam Martin, a mechanical engineering freshman who also attended the “1989” Chicago show. “I liked that she switched it up.”

Swift drew attention to the fact she has headlined shows at Rupp Arena four times, on each of her four concert tours. Most recently was the Red Tour in April 2013.

Swift is known for having a large “squad” consisting of superstars from around the globe. Videos played throughout the concert showing singer and actress Selena Gomez, actress Lena Dunham and other close friends discussing everything from Swift’s cats to her dating life and move to New York.

Swift has brought many stars onstage as her special guests throughout the tour, including Lorde, The Weeknd and Ellen DeGeneres. There was no special guest Tuesday night. Swift did, however, highlight one of her dancers, Christian Henderson, who is from Lexington.

“I mean, at first I was a little disappointed because that’s what this tour is known for, but when she got to the end of the set list and there were obviously not going to be any guest stars, I was fine with it,” said Sydney Petersen, an economics freshman. “We were there to see Taylor Swift, and I enjoyed the concert.”

“1989” was released on Oct. 27, 2014 and sold more than 1.2 million copies in its first week, giving Swift the largest sales week for an album since 2002 and beating all other albums released in 2014 in total sales after just one week, as tracked by Billboard. The album has now sold more than five million copies, and her most recent single, “Wildest Dreams,” stands at number four on iTunes as of press time.

“When I first listened to ‘1989,’ I did think it was going to be really successful,” Peterson said. “It was so different than anything she had ever done before. A lot of times when you listen to albums, you like some songs more than others, but I didn’t think any songs were bad.”

The album diverged from Swift’s country roots and was the first album to feature no country songs. Swift named the album after her birth year and used musical trends common in the 1980s as inspiration for the songs on the album.

“I like her new style because she’s so confident,” senior economics and Spanish major Malia Dunn-Reier said. “As long as she’s confident, I don’t care what she’s singing. She’s a great performer.”

The 1989 World Tour began on July 5 in Tokyo. Swift will remain in the U.S. for the remainder of October, take a week off, then finish her last 12 shows in Asia and Australia during November and December. The tour will conclude on Dec. 12 in Melbourne, Australia, one day before Swift’s 26th birthday. Martin said the “1989” tour is one to remember.

“I think it’s the attention to detail with the different outfits and the bracelets and everything,” Martin said. “I think there’s a lot of innovative thinking that goes into it and it all goes really well together.”