You’re more likely to find me at the theatre than at a gig these days but when Taylor Swift announced the London dates for her RED tour Matt and I made a pact to go no matter what state our relationship was in. RED is pretty much the story of our turbulent 18 months or so from the first meeting, dating, breaking up, hating each other, wanting to get back together but being afraid it would never work and finally accepting that our relationship was incredibly fucked up and finally being able to be frexes. I still remember those painful months directly after our breakup when I was listening to RED on repeat as I trudged through the snow on the way to a job I hated in a city I didn’t want to be in as though it was yesterday. It’s strange what memories a song can conjure. Anyway, we’re in a much healthier place now and we’re able to hang out together and laugh at most of the mistakes we both made!
At about 6:30pm we headed into the O2 arena to find our seats and I was pleased to see we had a pretty good view of the stage . The arena was a bit smaller than I was expecting and very much inline with the SECC where I saw Rhianna a couple of years ago. In the crowd was an awful lot of red (shock) and fairy lights. Tweens in their hundreds had made their own banners that were all lit up just for the gig and the place literally sparkled. Some spelled out the singer’s name, the album title or even her favourite number (13), the atmosphere was pretty infectious but boy did I feel a little old! Of course Matt is older than I am so I was able to make myself feel a bit better by taking the piss out of him instead.
The support band were The Vamps who I didn’t think I had heard of until they played their song “Can we dance?” midway through their set. For some reason I was expecting a girl band so was mildly disappointed to discover that they were male. But they were great performers and I especially loved their cover of The Killers hit Mr Brightside. One of the guitarists had an I ship t-shirt on but despite them being on stage for almost half an hour I couldn’t figure out what the last word was due to the positioning of the instruments which annoyed the hell out of me. If anyone knows please leave a comment!
Soon enough it was time for the main event. She took to the stage in a blaze of red with one of her signature wide-brimmed hats and a pair of high-waisted shorts to the fabulous State of Grace and choosing rather wisely throughout her many costume changes to keep herself very much covered up with the exception of her lengthy pins. I would very much have loved a more intimate gig with just Taylor and her instruments but this is a worldwide sell out tour and the girl knows how to put on a show so why shouldn’t she? With a dozen dancers, set and costume changes it all felt very slick and polished although some of the well-times looks that she gave the audience seemed a bit fake but she is a performer at heart.
22 was already one of my favourite songs from the album and her charge through the crowd to the B stage (which was directly in front of us) was completely unexpected (especially given that a fan had stormed the stage at the previous nights gig as well). While there she performed a small acoustic set just her and her instrument of choice before belting out the only song of the night I didn’t know the words to, Sparks Fly, while soaring over the crowds on a tiny moving plinth. Thankfully not everything was so high energy all the time and it was great when the theatrics were dialled down a notch or two for some of the more gentle songs. We were treated to a duet with up and coming singer Sam Smith (he did the vocals for that La la la song) and it was nice to see that Taylor was the one guest starring rather than the other way around. I believe the same thing happened the previous evening with Ed Sheeran whom she could easily have made duet Everything Has Changed with her.
I Knew You Were Trouble was hilariously set to a Phantom of the Opera-esque backdrop. The reason that this was so funny as the song is pretty much Matt’s theme tune (the other being UR so gay by Katy Perry :P) and his absolute favourite musical is Phantom. Coincidence? I think not! I have to admit to a tear or two when she sang All too Well from behind a gorgeous red baby grand piano. This is one of Taylors more grown up songs and I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever loved and lost will know exactly what she means by her lyrics. Thundering towards the finale Love Story and Treacherous also pulled at my heart-strings before the incredible Alice in Wonderland themed We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together closed out the show.
Sadly the bright lights made getting any decent pictures next to impossible but it was nice to be in the moment just singing along to songs that really have shaped a particular chapter of my life. I enjoyed the show so much I immediately looked to see if there were any tickets left for the remaining three performances when I got home (tonight then the 10th/11th Feb) before realising that even if there were I’m busy with my course and a trip to the theatre to see Tom Hiddlestone in Coriolanus but I would thoroughly recommend seeing her live if you like her music. However, if you’re in your late twenties like me, do prepare to feel pretty damn old!