Taylor Swift is one of the most popular musicians in the world.
So when it was announced that her anticipated Eras Tour wouldn’t be making a stop in the Middle East, to say I was disappointed would be a vast understatement.
Although it has only just come to the UAE, internationally it has already become the highest-grossing concert film of all time thanks to its success in other countries such as the US, Canada and Australia.
I would have loved to see Swift live – after all, this is the first time she has hit the road since 2018 – but with no stops in the region, there would be substantial travel involved as well as the usual difficulties securing tickets to begin with.
After finding out the film was coming, I purchased my ticket straight away to see it in Max at Vox Cinemas to make the most of the giant 20-metre-wide screen and special spatial audio that seem fitting for the experience.
For a Saturday evening, the cinema wasn’t full but I didn't really expect it to be. This made for a cosy setting as we were all nicely spread around the theatre. The turnout for the film included families, friends and even couples.
Much to my surprise, when the film began, it immediately felt like I was transported somewhere else. From the loud cheers of her adoring fans to the visuals of Swift and her backup dancers and vocalists appearing, it almost felt like we were there with her.
Immediately people began singing along and dancing in their seats as Swift opened by playing tracks from her 2019 album Lover. While some artists tend to play shortened versions of their songs while performing, Swift mostly played them all in their entirety, which I for one appreciated.
Next she transitioned to her 2008 hit crossover album Fearless, performing upbeat tracks such as You Belong with Me and Love Story that helped her become the star she is today. She then turned to Evermore, one of the two albums she released during the pandemic.
Listening to her go from her early pop days to a more mature sound not only made me realise how far she’s come as a singer but also how versatile she is – something that would prove to be a continuing theme.
While songs from Evermore tend to be more mellow, Swift picked the energy right back up with 2017’s Reputation. At the time of release, it felt like the music world wasn’t quite ready for songs such as … Ready for It? and Look What You Made Me Do with their harder EDM-inspired sounds. However, the album is now viewed as the beginning of her musical evolution.
Swift then took the crowd back to 2010 with Speak Now, but only performed Enchanted, which made everyone in the cinema sing along especially at the bridge of the track. Personally, I would have liked to have heard Mine, which is one of my favourite songs from that album.
However, I didn't feel let down as she led into 2012’s Red with its upbeat tracks We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and I Knew You Were Trouble. Swift even pulled out her guitar for the full 10-minute version of All Too Well.
Continuing the journey, we sped forward to 2020’s Folklore with its relaxed melodies before delving into perhaps Swift’s best album, 2014’s 1989. When she sang Shake It Off, everyone stood up from their seats to dance along. She finished with her latest album, 2022’s Midnights, performing seven tracks from it including Anti-Hero and Karma.
Going through her different albums in non-sequential order, it’s easy to get lost in nostalgia. After all, her 10 albums span more than 15 years and every “era” inevitably has its own memories tied to it.
Although this wasn't quite the same as being at a live concert, it was still an impressive experience. It almost felt like having an up-close performance all to myself. I could also sense that the people around me were genuinely happy, which is what I'd imagine it's like at one of her concerts too.
At the end, I was given two friendship bracelets from fellow fans, following the trend from her shows. If you can't see Taylor Swift live (which is proving harder and harder to do), or even if you already have, I would say the film is still worth a watch.