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Taylor Swift review: Pop’s heartbreak princess dazzles in Edinburgh

After more than a year of anticipation, Taylor Swift’s blockbuster Eras tour has finally landed in the UK.

Pop’s heartbreak princess launched the first of 17 British concerts at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium where, shortly before taking to the stage, she was wheeled into the arena hidden inside a janitor’s cart.

Appropriately enough, then, she cleaned the floor with her competition – putting on a meticulously-paced, endlessly entertaining show that delighted fans who’d come from as far afield as Australia, Japan and America.

For three and a half hours, the star chronicled her journeys through country and pop; love and tragedy; success and notoriety – all in the form of era-defining hits like 22, Shake It Off, Bad Blood, Karma and Anti-Hero.

Not only that, she made it her mission to make Scotland feel special.

“My one regret is that I really should have come to play in Scotland more,” she said near the beginning of what was only her second-ever gig in the country.

“You’ve made us feel so welcome. The volume of the singing, the dancing… You are performing on such a level.

“I can’t stop looking at the crowd. I’m captivated.”

This, more than anything, is Swift’s superpower – peddling the idea that she’s one of us, awed by the spectacle of which she’s the focus.

When she emerges on stage, her first words are, “Oh, hi!”, like we’d just bumped into her at the top of Arthur’s Seat.

And her signature look is an open-mouthed “who, me?” – as if to suggest this $2bn world tour is some sort of happy accident.

Apparently unfeigned, her delight is very endearing. But, of course, this tour is a well-oiled machine, full of vivid set pieces, pin-sharp choreography and visual grandeur.

Swift emerges in a billow of white smoke shortly after 7:15pm to the synth-pop strains of Miss Americana And The Heartbreak Prince, twirling around the stage in the first of 16 distinct outfits.

The setlist is drawn from 10 of her 11 albums, each one designated as a specific “era” in her evolution from country ingénue to chart-topping pop star to lockdown folk singer.

She zigs and zags through the chronology with giddy abandon, opening with the unabashed romanticism of 2019’s Lover, before delving into her back catalogue for the country hits of Fearless and her pop transformation on Red.

Every moment gets its own look. The Man, a song about restrictive gender stereotypes, is performed inside an elaborate set of office cubicles and typewriters. The spiky and sarcastic Look What You Made Me Do sees dancers trapped in glass boxes, each imitating a different look from Swift’s 19-year career. And Blank Space is like a live action Tron, with neon bicycles circling the stage.

But for her masterpiece, All Too Well, Swift stands alone on a raised platform for 10 minutes, armed only with her guitar and a red-black ombre coat.

Taken from 2012’s Red Album, the song is a 10-minute evisceration of an ex-boyfriend (believed to be actor Jake Gyllenhaal) that contains some of her most scathing and desolate lyrics.

She sings it with faded anger and bittersweet tenderness, the crowd joining sympathetically on the pivotal line: “You call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest.”

The song is an emotional highlight, simultaneously specific and universal, a characteristic that’s endeared her to female fans in particular. 

It’s one of several songs in Edinburgh that elicits tears from the audience. 

But only one prompts a proposal.

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