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Review: Reputation Live

Helena Senior reviews Netflix's featured film; Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour


I'm not going to pretend that I am anything but a hardcore Swiftie; I have always wanted to see Taylor Swift live, but I’ve unfortunately never had the chance. While watching it on Netflix from the comfort of my bed isn’t the same thing, it sure as hell comes close. One thing that I absolutely love about live music is the atmosphere and the experience, and somehow this concert manages to communicate that energy onscreen. The cinematography of the whole thing is phenomenal, and the editing is seamless. Taylor opens the show with a video, showing clips from across her decade-long career while quotes from news articles are read out, all leading into the albums opening track ‘Ready For It’. It truly is an epic opening in every sense of the word, and the moment that Taylor appears on stage, the crowd goes wild, and I’m feeling that exact same vibe watching it on my computer screen. What is so fantastic about watching Taylor live is that she doesn’t perform a single song exactly as it was on the album. Each song is brought to life with extended intros and outros, solos and dance breaks, and some phenomenal ad lobbing from the woman herself. Probably the best example is the second song in her set, ‘I Did S o m e t h i n g Bad’, in which the entire song pauses for a second after the line: “If a man talks shit then I owe him nothing.” For a moment the whole stadium is silent; it’s probably the most empowering moment of the show. This song really acts as a vehicle for Taylor to stick it to the haters (and we all know exactly who she’s talking to) as she puts on an awe-inspiring, cinematic performance.

‘Gorgeous’ is an opportunity for Taylor to shine a spotlight on her fantastic female dancers and singers who’ve joined her for the tour, followed up by a ‘Style’/’Love Story’/’You Belong With Me’ mashup, during which she brings out her long-time band, and we all enjoy a little bit of old Taylor nostalgia. Another highlight of the show is ‘Look What You Made Me Do’. Swift may have first been called a snake out of spite, but she’s taken the hate and turned it into something incredible. With video images interacting with the dancers, and a giant snake rising from the stage, it’s a masterclass in absolutely owning it. Also, Tiffany Haddish appears in a video clip to deliver the famous “cause she’s dead” line. During one of her conversations with the crowd, Taylor talks about how everyone at the show has a light up bracelet, so she can see absolutely everyone in the stadium. It’s a beautiful idea, and as she flies over the crowd singing ‘Delicate’ in a light up basket, she looks like she’s flying through the stars. On a smaller stage at the back her two support acts, Charli XCX and Camilla Cabello, appear for ‘Shake It Off’, followed by a stripped-back acoustic set.

Taylor’s return to the main stage (in a snake cage - in case we weren’t picking up on the imagery) is set to a mashup of ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Should’ve Said No’, which ends with an unexpected keyboard solo that is honestly my favourite thing ever. Later in the show Taylor talks about the literal thousands of people that it takes to put on a show like the Reputation Stadium Tour, and dedicates a tear-inducing piano mashup of ‘Long Live’ and ‘New Year’s Day’ to all her fans who have made the tour possible for everyone involved. The show ends with a mashup of ‘We Are Never Ever

Getting Back Together’, and ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’, staged on a working water fountain and full of fireworks and explosive graphics. It’s a gleeful final middle finger to all the haters and the perfect way to end the
Reputation era.

Whether you love or hate her, Taylor Swift is the kind of icon who defines a generation of music, and this show proves it. Chart artists are criticised for not using their platforms meaningfully, but Taylor just proved that she’s fearless in using hers. 

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