Swift is fearless in sparkling Tulsa set
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Thursday, September 22, 2011
9/22/11 at 10:47 AM
Wednesday night, starlet Taylor Swift proved that she's no longer the new kid on the country music scene, as the 21-year-old performed to a sold-out crowd at the BOK Center.
Her imaginative set featured nearly as many massive scene and costume changes as it did songs on its dozen-plus setlist. Frills, bling, shimmy and shine cascaded from the stage.
Early on, she mentioned that this was a return concert for her, a sold-out crowd of 13,000 people, and "you've always been one of the loudest, wildest, most insane crowds ever."
Her svelte frame, ivory skin, fringed dresses and sparkling smile nearly stole the show from her gilded, bigger-than-Broadway spiral staircases, nine-piece band, dozen dancers, countless violinists, pyrotechnics and even acrobatics.
But what really shines is her arena-size personality. It blasts from the stage, leaving fans old and young starstruck. She laughs, grins, shouts and stomps, looks mooney-eyed at her audience, inviting it into the wonderland of her music.
An army of mini-Swifts roared from their seats, dressed in summery duds, pin curls and cowgirl boots and waved signs proclaiming their everlasting love for the singer. She loved them each right back.
Songs in her set included "Sparks Fly," "Mine," "Story of Us," a cover of OneRebublic's "You're Not Sorry," "Better Than Revenge," "Last Kiss," "Fearless," "Fifteen" "You Belong With Me" and "Love Story." She even played an electric guitar, acoustic guitars, a banjo, a piano and a ukulele during her fast-paced performance.
There were the tunes "Our Song" and "Mean," played in pigtail braids from a makeshift front porch. Faux snow fluttered over her during "Back to December," as Swift took center stage behind an ivory grand piano.
"Speak Now" was staged to an elaborate wedding scene, including pews and hymnal music, and a bridesmaid (Swift) who literally ran through the audience with the groom.
Her singing vastly improves on this, her second headlining tour. Her sweetly-whispery-young voice has slowly segued into true pop-country intensity. At times, her shrilly-screaming audience did overpower her.
Throughout the show, the words "Do you realize you have the most beautiful face?" were scrolled on her arm like a tattoo, a tribute to Oklahoma rock act The Flaming Lips, and the official state rock song, "Do You Realize? ? " She also covered the Stillwater pop-rocker's All-American Rejects hit "Swing Swing."
At times, her hair-flinging, hand-heart gestures and "Oh, wow!"s seem a little over-rehearsed. Maybe it's because she's done them in nearly every live performance we've seen her in.
But when she coos that Wednesday night is a night she'll remember "for the rest of her life," well, you sort of want to believe her, even though she probably also says that at every tour stop.
At this moment, however, she means it, and that's all that matters.
Opening act Needtobreathe was energetic and commanding in its '70s-Southern-rock meets All-American outlaw swagger, if not particularly original.
The band's reminiscent of current Kings of Leon. It was an appropriate warmup, however, to Swift's poppy, contemporary country sound.
Jennifer Chancellor 918-581-8346
Country artist Taylor Swift sings during her concert Wednesday at the BOK Center. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Taylor Swift fans Kylie Dent (left), Micaela Breen and Kylie Severs erupt when the country star begins "Story of Us" during Swift's concert Wednesday at the BOK Center. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World