Taylor Swift at Croke Park on the 15th June, 2018

“Are you ready for it?” asks Taylor Swift as she is revealed behind two sliding walls on her first of two nights in Croke Park. Judging by the audience’s reaction, they most definitely are.

It’s been almost four years since Swift brought her victorious 1989 tour to the 3Arena, and a lot has changed for her since then, the 28-year old’s entire persona and music has gone through a major makeover and shift over the past few years. Having been involved in celebrity feuds with the likes of Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Katy Perry, the singer has been at the epicentre of tabloid gossip despite being out of the immediate pubic eye for some time while writing her new album. After a leaked phone call with Kardashian, the internet targeted Swift through snake emojis, a mean ploy that the singer used as inspiration for her latest album ‘Reputation’.

As world tours go, they don’t get much bigger than this. The main stage (there are three in total) within the arena  features a large LED industrial wall with a centred partition, within which her eight-piece band are situated. Opening with the epic bass lines of Ready For It..?, the pop sensation is clad in a black, shimmering body suit, consistent with the reptilian theme of ‘Reputation’.

The succeeding I Did Something Bad features an impressive pyrotechnic and fire display, the heat and force of the flames can be felt from several seats back. Swift is accompanied by a large entourage of dancers on stage who carry out their choreographed movements flawlessly with great fervour. Stopping momentarily to address the crowd, the singer admits “this is a really special moment in my life”. Her gratitude and warmth is inconsistent with the contemptuous theme of the tour and album but seems sincere none the less.

Quickly getting back into character, she launches into Look What You Made Me Do, but not before a giant (frankly terrifying) inflatable snake is introduced to the stage (this tour is NOT suitable for those with ophidiophobia), as well as a portable gold throne in which she later reclines with a regal air.

As the opening chords of Gorgeous sound, Swift introduces, by name, the “fabulous, amazing women on this stage”. Female empowerment is an evident theme on the tour; the superb Charli XCX exclaimed during her support set “tonight is all about girl power – I’m so happy to be sharing this stage with two other amazing badass women on this stage!”. The second support act Camila Cabello was less gratuitous, appearing to believe her place on the stage and tour was totally justified. She later donned a green Irish soccer jersey as she and Charli joined Swift for Shake It Off, a clever outfit choice which the crowd happily lapped up.

There are several throwbacks dotted throughout the set; a medley including Style, Love Story and You Being With Me featured early on in the evening while we were treated to a mashup of Bad Blood and Should’ve Said No later on. In order to travel in between the stages, Swift is strapped into reptile-themed hover craft and glided over her adoring fans.

As a grand piano with ‘Reputation’ printed on its side is wheeled out, Swift speaks about cyber bullying and the effect that the mass invasion into her personal life has had on her over the past few years, as well as some advice for those experiencing the same thing. This is a worthwhile speech, given the amount of young, impressionable girls present in the audience. Her words merge into the opening lines Long Live, which merges into the delicate New Year’s Day.

As the final chords of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things ring out, several things are apparent; Swift has truly risen from the ashes and become one of the most coveted pop stars on the planet, and the ‘Reputation Stadium Tour’ is one of the largest and most impressive shows in the world right now. Despite it being a considerably easier feat when you have $280 million to your name, both the show and the album are lessons in making the most out of a bad situation and using it to your advantage. Look what we made her do, indeed.

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