Concert Review: Oscar-less Taylor Swift Still Wins Over BankAtlantic Center on March 7

Categories: Concert Review
taylorswift_014.jpg
Sayre Berman
No tears on Taylor Swift's guitar Sunday at BankAtlantic Center
Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the concert.

Taylor Swift
With Kellie Pickler and Gloriana
BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise
Sunday, March 7, 2010


Simultaneously embodying adolescent pathos and empowerment, Taylor Swift swung her golden ringlets into South Florida's BankAtlantic Center Sunday evening. While many folks around the country watched their office Oscars pool dreams slip through their fingers (and LOL-ed re: Judd Nelson, apparently), this audience had its eye on the sort of hurt locker where a teen stows a diary of their deepest emotions.

Review continues after the jump.

"I am so happy you chose to spend tonight with us," she told the assembled crowd, north of 19,000 teenage girls and moms looking young enough to be their sisters who wouldn't have raised a plucked eyebrow had they seen Jeff Bridges win Best Actor, regardless. One of the loudest moments of collective shrieking, squealing and screaming in a night filled with little else came during "Today Was a Fairytale," Swift's latest single. It didn't hurt that the song is from the otherwise-maligned -- only 18 percent fresh at RottenTomatoes.com -- Valentine's Day. It got deafening as footage of the film, in which the pop-country star appears and briefly sucks face with Twilight heartthrob Taylor "Team Jacob" Lautner, appeared 50 feet high behind her.

Elle's current cover girl showed her appreciation for film on Saturday, her day off -- also the day IGN.com's message board traffic went through the roof with reports that she visited Walt Disney World and acted mostly normal. "After a day of roller coasters and joy, watching Lifetime on the bus. This movie called No Reservations. Abigail Breslin is seriously great," she tweeted. (39 percent, if you're wondering.)

Oscars night elitism aside, what can be said for Sunday's Taylor Swift concert is that every attendee walked away feeling like they knew her a little better, that dreams are a little more likely to come true, and that there's no point in worrying about what other people think. Of course, a performer who can synthesize that much Vitamin D into a three-minute pop song about a pale-colored horse, needn't worry about what other people think anyhow -- because they all love her. On no fewer than five occasions, Swift's expertly choreographed show stood completely still while she basked agape in the adulation, occasionally mouthing "oh my God," and her spunky backing band showed no malice during minutes-long, mid-song interludes as she slowly descended through the crowd giving hugs after making a surprise appearance up in Section 115 mid-set.

As will become familiar to the enthusiasts who follow accounts of all 39 dates on Swift's North American Fearless tour, every show will boast a sea of rainbow glow sticks, neon tag board signs, and "You Belong With Me"-inspired "nerd" glasses. In the realm of hyper-fandom, a teenage boy wearing pink fairy wings and three young fellows who painted their chests to read "T-A-YLOR" hopefully remain unique to South Florida.

Among the American Greetings-sponsored texts flashing on the big screens after Kellie Pickler's opening set (Swift has her own line of cards with the company): "We wrote all over our car about how excited we are to see you."

Cowboy hats were the exception rather than the rule in this suburbanite crowd. The musical atmosphere onstage was similar, with pop decidedly winning out over country in terms of song arrangements, stage decorations and back-up dancers. Even without the technicality of a Britney or Cristina performance, Swift kept the energy high. After opening the show prancing around in a band uniform for "You Belong With Me" and tearing it off to reveal a sparkly silver dress, she never spent more than a few seconds in one place or more than a few minutes in the same gown. Verily, all 39 shows will feature defiant head-banging, hip-shaking and the requisite hair-flipping that Swift can rightfully claim as her own.

Unlike so many revamped and retooled contemporaries, Taylor Swift songs are pure Taylor Swift. From "Teardrops On My Guitar" to "15" to a Victorian-themed "Love Story" (complete with "Canon in D" intro), she didn't need to pretend that she was singing about anything other than her own fairy tale existence. With her full-ear monitors working for her and the entire hockey stadium singing along, Swift was far steadier as a vocalist than what many of her TV performances have led people to believe.

No overt mentions of Kanye West or Joe Jonas on Sunday, but the ever-changing backdrop screens said as much as was needed with the phrases "they shouldn't do bad things," and "you got what you deserved" flashing across them. Meanwhile, the most amusing part of a segue clip hosted by Today's Kathie Lee Gifford foil Hoda Kotb came via Tim McGraw, who joked about being "plucked from obscurity" by being featured in the song bearing his name. Swift's only undoing, in terms of track selection, was an overly country-inspired snatch of Justin Timberlake's "What Goes Around.../...Comes Around" in the middle of "You're Not Sorry." That, and some extended beating on an oil drum sculpture, made for the only unsavory moments of the night.

Taylor Swift stayed fresh a good 95 percent of the time Sunday night, and earned the right to high-step and shimmy across the stage in a black dress to the very end. Closing song "Should've Said No" was punctuated with a waterfall from the ceiling that somehow spelled out "NO" in the droplets as they fell. Swift eventually immersed herself in the falling stream, and washed off her completed night's worth of work. Can just a smile serve as the ultimate acceptance speech?

Critic's Notebook

Better Than:
Watching the NHL's Florida Panthers play at BankAtlantic Center. 

Personal Bias:
It took a hike to find a men's room because most of the BankAtlantic Center's bathrooms were altered to accommodate the predominantly female crowd. Uncool.

Random Detail:
Pretty sure the castle backdrop for "Love Story" was influenced by Germany's Neuschwanstein.

By the Way:
Sunday was final night of a three-show run through Florida. Her next date is in Austin on March 10, which does not quite overlap with SXSW. She is taking the 13th to the 17th off, though, so maybe there will be some Surfer Blood in her future.
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