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Review: Taylor Swift's Eras Tour - Accor Stadium (Sydney), February 2024.

Review: Taylor Swift's Eras Tour - Accor Stadium (Sydney), February 2024.

If home is a state of mind, then what is the qualifier befitting of 81,000 Taylor Swift fans uniting together at Sydney's Accor Stadium last night for a long-awaited communion? Having not stepped foot in Australia since 2018's Reputation Stadium Tour (and with no New Zealand dates scheduled), the anticipation for Swift's latest tour has been unprecedented, with a fierce demand for sold-out tickets unlike anything that has ever been seen before.

More than a triumphant trip down memory lane, or a three-and-a-half-hour deep dive into Swift's songbook, The Eras Tour is a physical manifestation of how the world's biggest popstar and her fans identify - recognising in each other a shared spark of kinship forged from dreaming the same dreams, surviving the same heartbreak, and battling the same foes. Swift is a year younger than I am, born in 1989, but through the magical connection of musical string, I can explain the last 18 years of my life to you through a series of ten albums - from the sparkly naivety of 'Fearless', to the youthful drama of 'Red', charming reinvention of '1989', and grown-up womanhood of sister albums; 'Folklore' and 'Evermore'. Knowingly, Swift declared last night: "I'm a story girl - I've been looking out at you and thinking about all the stories that got you here."

This universally relatable rollercoaster of feelings - both good and bad, and also sometimes hard - is what powers Swift's Eras Tour. When Swift sings, "I don't wanna keep secrets just to keep you," during 'Cruel Summer' in the show's first act, it just hits different live. Albums are forever, but The Eras Tour brings Swift's songs to life as a visceral experience - with snow confetti falling during the 10-minute version of 'All Too Well', flames thrown in 'Bad Blood', and fireworks galore for the finale of 'Karma'.

Each song performed is like a spell cast - from the main character energy of 'Betty', to peak yearning in 'The 1', and the absolute devastation of 'Champagne Problems' (which especially resonates tonight, with the equivalent of a Cannes standing ovation bestowed upon the 'Evermore' track, and Swift so overwhelmed she mouths "oh my god" whilst sheepishly basking in the warmth of adoration and appreciation for a non-single).

In Cameron Crowe's 2001 film, 'Almost Famous', Zooey Deschanel's character famously declared that: "This song explains why I'm leaving home to become a stewardess." Similarly, the surprise songs section of The Eras Tour is also symbolic - you can tell a lot about a person depending on what non-singles they hope Swift will choose to perform that night (personally, I'd been hoping for 'Peace' and 'Long Story Short').

Tonight, Swift selects 'How You Get The Girl' as her first acoustic number, much to the delight of '1989' devotees who sing along rapturously. Next, moving to a piano, Swift invited Sabrina Carpenter (whose opening set had been cancelled due to heavy rain and lightning strikes) on-stage to perform a mash-up of 'White Horse' and 'Coney Island' - with Swift giving her second shout-out of the night to the Sydney Zoo ("One of the times we were at the zoo, we really loved the Sydney Zoo, and Sabrina mentioned to me that there was a song that was really important to her as a kid") while explaining the significance of choosing 'White Horse'.

In a spoken word outro on the 2019 'Lover' track, 'Daylight', Swift premised, "I wanna be defined by the things that I love. Not the things I hate... I just think that you are what you love," and The Eras Tour is a fulfilment of that promise - every facet of Swift now bejewelled. She's a zeitgeist in herself.

At the heart of The Eras Tour is the shared connection and traded friendship bracelets between strangers and best friends alike (a ritual of community that thrives even outside of the tour, with the flight attendants on my flight to Sydney this week all wearing Swift-themed bracelets). It's wonderful when you feel seen and understood by another human, but supernatural to feel at home amongst a stadium audience. And as Swift says herself: "I hope you think about the memories we made together here tonight."

When I first found myself at The Eras Tour in New Jersey last May, I had been seeking emotional refuge and comfort from an unfortunate situation a few days prior, and 'Tolerate It' had felt like an exorcism. Last night in Sydney on a different continent at the end of summer, I felt just at home but in a completely different way - so maybe, and most importantly, the true magic of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour is that it is whatever you want it to be (and whatever you need most in the moment).

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