On April 13, 2023, Raymond James Stadium saw fans lining up for hours before the doors opened at 4:30 p.m. Swifties started packing the parking lots for “Tay-gating” as early as 3 p.m., playing the hits and pre-drinking before the show.
All morning and afternoon, the box office had been ambushed with calls from fans hoping to snag last-minute tickets. “I’ve never heard the phones ring like this,” says one employee. “We aren’t selling tickets, but her fans were trying any way possible.”
Signs littered the surrounding neighborhood advertising parking, with rates as high as $80 a spot. Raymond James Stadium raffic attendants yelled at drivers to keep moving if they tried to drop passengers off in a non-designated zone.
Inside the stadium, the afternoon rolled along and over 68,000 Swifties packed the stadium in anticipation of Taylor’s Tampa return. Entry was seamless for the ones who came prepared. Correct bag size? Check. No liquids? Check. Swifties do their homework.
Glitter, sequins, and beaded bracelets were the fashion move for the evening, and hardly an attendee didn’t get the memo. Most everyone dressed up in tribute to Swift, or one of her eras: snakes for Reputation, Cowboy boots and hats for the OG days, pink frills and hearts for Lover, and dazzling black and indigo for her latest, Midnights.
Not many singer songwriters can pack a stadium for three consecutive sold out shows in the same city. After ten studio albums, seventeen years in music and over 500 awards won, Taylor Swift is a legendary, larger than life superstar.
After spirited opening acts, beabadobe and GAYLE, Swift took the stage at 8 p.m. sharp, to thundering applause from her fans. Under the stadium lights and cameras, received with cheers that were heard from blocks away, it’s hard to believe Swift is a woman and not a myth.
“My name is Taylor and I was born in 1989,” she says, and the crowd reached a near-deafening pitch.
Not one to waste time, she begun the show with Miss Americana and the Heartbreak Prince, which kicked off a time-warp through her varied eras, complete with an ensemble of dancers and backup singers, glittering costumes, and stunning visuals that helped tell the story of each era (and as fans think, may have also hinted at things to come).
Fans were elated that the weather held up, as it was forecasted to rain. But, under near cloudless skies, the Florida heat was in full force, which Swift commented on during the show. Her hair, pin straight in the beginning, only got progressively curlier as the night wore on.
With breakup rumors circling on the internet about Swift and partner of six years, Joe Alwyn, the singer gave no indication things were amiss. Pointing out that it was the 13th (her lucky day and favorite number) she smiled, winked, shimmied and shined as she sang all the hits.
Since her last tour, five years prior, she reminded fans that she had added four new albums to the musical family, with this being the first time Lover, Folklore, Evermore and Midnights were on tour.
The show began with the Lover Era, and she flexed a muscle playfully during The Man, showing off the quirk and charm teenagers fell in love with over a decade ago. For Fearless, she invited the crowd to “go back to high school with her,” and everyone obliged.
Evermore and Folklore eras invited spooky autumn vibes and cottage-core decor. Cheeks were teary during Swift’s rendition of Marjorie, and Illicit Affairs was performed with drama and flair. She wore a new green frock with midsection cut out, one of four new tour outfits she wore that evening.
Reputation was a high-energy dance party, and although Enchanted was the only song performed from Speak Now, Swift gave it her all, donning a floor length sparkling silver floral dress for the first time on the tour. It was one for the books.
Between sets, she reflected on her albums with vulnerability, honesty, and appreciation, taking time before Red to reminisce on her early twenties, reflecting on that tricky time of life teetering between adulthood and being a teen. The highlight of this era was the hotly-anticipated All Too Well (10 minute version). No one could stop fans from singing, ahem–screaming– along.
As Swift’s set went into the third hour, the 1989 era kicked off with Style and Blank Space. In rapid succession, she sang Shake It Off, Wildest Dreams and Bad Blood.
As fans expected, the setlist remained similar to other Eras shows, with two surprise songs between the 1989 era performance and the finale, Midnights. The two surprise songs were Speak Now (which Swift adorably mixed up a lyric for) performed with guitar, and Treacherous, performed on piano.
It was about an hour to midnight when Taylor Swift performed songs from her newest album, starting with Lavender Haze, followed by the radio hit Anti-Hero and the synthy, electro-pop Midnight Rain.
Swift showed off her sultry side for Vigilante S–t in a burlesque-style chair performance, complete with a bejeweled blue bodysuit, fitting for her next song–bejeweled.
The show was a spectacle, Swift and her fans dazzled in the moonlight as she led them through 44 songs of high-energy sing-along bliss, ending with a firework send off.
It was a reminder that the artist, only 33, is in a league of her own. As a singer, songwriter, storyteller, and performer, there’s no comparison. The mature, self-aware, playful and confident Swift captivated a crowd, many of whom had traveled from across the world, gone through ticket queues and resellers, parking nightmares and more for three unforgettable hours.
At the beginning of the show, she said to her fans, “These songs are about my life or about fictional characters I’ve created, but at the end of the day I hope these songs can be part of your life?”
Fans have been accepting Swift’s invitation to envision themselves in her music for years prior—connecting with the happiness, heartbreak, joy and anguish of growing up, coming of age, love, loss and being alive.
Eras is a It’s no doubt that for evenings of Eras to follow, Swift will put on just as much of a show.
Preparing for one of this weekend’s shows? Here’s everything you need to know before you go.