Angel in a glittery bodysuit: Taylor Swift in ‘The Eras Tour’ concert film.
TAYLOR SWIFT: THE ERAS TOUR **** (165 minutes) M
With the world the way it is at the minute – teetering as we are on the brink of an abyss into God knows what – it’s difficult to think of any sounder source of succour and solace than to spend just on three hours in the sweet, warm embrace of Taylor Swift.
Thus it is that in her rather marvellous, self-produced concert film The Eras Tour Taylor Swift appears before us not as a mere mega-pop star but as a luminous, transcendent figure, an angelic saviour in a glittery Versace bodysuit.
The epic concert lasts a scant 165 minutes, but right now we need to grab on to whatever salvation is on offer, however temporary it might be. It seems Providence has delivered The Eras Tour at just the right time. We loved her before. We love her even more now.
Performing in front of a sold-out crowd of 70,000+ at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles during the last leg of the American leg of her global tour, Swift spreads her message of love and hope and dance from a huge stage, the appropriately epic production effort surrounding her providing jaw dropping testament to giant high-definition screen technology and industrial hydraulics.
With all eyes, iPhones and several dozen brilliantly concealed cameras trained on her, the mechanics of the show are as intricately choreographed as the dancers and the super-sized theatrical sets as Swift moves through selected cuts from her albums with effortless energy and without, it seems, drawing a single bead of sweat.
Some of the numbers are lushly garnished with splendid set design and stage craft, the omnipresent cameras providing an intimacy not even a premium ticket holder could enjoy.
If there’s one snag in the show it’s when Swift performs the mega hits Shake It Off and Bad Blood.
She seems, well, not uninterested exactly but eager to dispatch them. Given the dazzling effort accompanying so many songs, the production on these numbers looks positively anemic by comparison, consisting of little more than Swift and her dancers. It’s a small quibble, admittedly, but it’s such a shame to let slip an opportunity to see her bounce around in a tutu.
As grand as the design of the show is – the lighting is magnificent and there are some stunning visual effects – Swift works hard to counter the scale by sustaining a personal bond with her people, as big as the throng is.
After opening the show with a touch of self-parody about star power (she even kisses her guns) Swift regularly thanks her fans as she banters, highlighting with an unexpectedly magic and moving moment when she connects with a little girl. You’ll tear up it’s so good.
As consummate a performer as she clearly is, the film relies on a very demanding skill that is largely hidden.
The concert was filmed over three nights and is a masterpiece in editing as it all flows without a hitch. This meant Swift must have had to replicate her moves precisely so that tracking shots taken on the stage would perfectly match with wider shots taken on a different night.
Indeed, so good is Swift’s replication that hardcore tech nerds will be reduced to scrutinizing her fringe to pick up tiny jumps in continuity when coverage from different shoots were used. It’s damn fine work, easily Oscar worthy.
The film is being presented as a Special Event, screening only across weekends with higher ticket prices that aren’t subject to concession cards.
The upside is that Taylor Swift fans – aka Swifties – can behave during screenings as if they are actually at a concert. They’re taking selfies, screaming, running around, applauding, singing along, dancing.
To the uninitiated such conduct might prove annoying at first, but once you realize what’s going on it can become quite enjoyable to behold, enhancing the experience.
And, to be honest, the film arguably offers a better experience than what actually going to a live concert would provide.
You’re sitting comfortably in a plush cinema watching Swift on a giant screen, the great camera work, killer editing and surround sound mixing doing all the work enhancing the deal while you watch on with your giant Fanta and box of trail mix.
Even with the aid of the giant screens behind her showing her in close up, it’s hard to see how the real thing could look be better, especially if you’re way up the back.
Ah, but of course it’s the feeling of being in the same room as her that obviously counts for much more. Otherwise fans would not be so happy to fork out so much to see her for real, even if it’s from a distance with tens of thousands of similarly devoted fans screaming above the music.