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Taylor Swift in Paris: a paradoxical triumph

Until now, the relationship between Taylor Swift and France could be summed up as a series of missed meetings.

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Taylor Swift in Paris: a paradoxical triumph

Until now, the relationship between Taylor Swift and France could be summed up as a series of missed meetings. Between a Zenith far from being complete in 2011 and the pandemic of 2020 which prevented the star from traveling the world as she had planned, the French did not have the opportunity to see the phenomenon up close. Some considered that his music was not cut out for our European ears, others took a slightly ironic look at this idol who was too smooth to be honest. However, after having capsized the whole world with her tour The Eras Tour, which began more than a year ago in the United States, Taylor Swift was determined to seduce Europe at all costs.

It was in our capital that the singer’s journey to the old continent began. As part of Paris La Défense Arena, a gigantic venue perfectly suited to the American's extravagant show. Surrounded by a team of 200 people, the singer set up there last Sunday, fine-tuning the settings of a high-precision machine in which no detail is left to chance. It was 7:54 p.m. when the thirty-year-old kicked off her show, six minutes early, in front of 45,000 people. From the outskirts of the room, the admirers, much more numerous than the admirers, set the tone. Dressed in glittery outfits, cowgirl hats and majorette-style boots, the young women who make up the largest part of the public crowded around, in a very good-natured and very American atmosphere. We could hear a lot of English spoken in the room: 20% of the spectators were compatriots of the star. Rarely have we heard an audience as enthusiastic and responsive as these “Swifties” for whom the arrival on stage of “Tay-Tay” will have sounded like a relief after years of waiting.

Very wide, with a 30-meter proscenium extending into the crowd, the stage, overlooked by a huge screen, breaks all records. Its surface allows the star to multiply the paintings and choreographies. Speaking to explain her joy at being on stage in Paris, the singer recalled that she was there to take her fans into a retrospective of her 18-year career. That's eleven sequences like so many albums released since 2006. Many people were expecting a chronological review but it will start with Lover, a 2019 album, rather than with his first album. A desire to dive directly into the pop formula and not the country of its beginnings, the very one that was said to be unexportable. The scenography is very impressive, which sees her perform one outfit after another at a sustained pace, surrounded by sets and projections that constantly engage the eye. The musicians are installed in the garden and courtyard and not on stage. You will have to wait several sequences before seeing them perform on the main stage, alongside the star.

A singer with impeccable tone, Taylor Swift is also a guitarist. Her instruments all match her outfits. From glitter to indigestion. The Gibson brand has designed scintillating variations of its acoustic models. Ultra-invigorating, the show knows no downtime: it starts hard and ends hard. The stamina and performance of Taylor Swift and her dancers and backup singers are breathtaking. But we would appreciate it if the show scaled back to appreciate the songs. And that's the rub. Each of Taylor Swift's records is filled with ultra-effective songs. But his compositions, too linear, struggle to seduce beyond the stage dimension. Apart from the pyrotechnics and clever staging ideas, Taylor Swift's music is simply linear and quite boring. Reduced to harmonies of two or three chords, the songs spare none of the effects that abound in the best pop in the world, that of the Beatles or David Bowie, brilliant songwriters. The argument of Taylor Swift exegetes is that she composes her songs herself, and is not a simple performer. Certainly. But she enriches her compositions by introducing audacity. This is the only point in which this student model fails.

A hard worker, Taylor Swift exudes a first class side. And if the outfits she wears highlight her very advantageous physique and her endless legs, the young woman does not give off any trouble. Like a good little soldier, she strides across the stage, displaying her unfailing determination. In 3h15 of performance, the diva leaves little room for emotion. The show is so controlled that it has a rather oppressive dimension. So Taylor “I can do everything” Swift puts herself in various contexts. After the series of Martine's adventures, we will be treated to Taylor in the countryside, Taylor at the airport, Taylor at the music hall, Taylor in the hospital. So many sequences, which, with their mechanical aspect, erase all the rough edges that we have the right to expect from a family show.

The only surprise - and it's a big one - is that this first Parisian show is the one where she introduces a sequence devoted to The Tortured Poets Department, an album just released. Unconvincing on record, the songs are embodied with more dynamism on stage. In a show that has been running for months, this breath of fresh air is nice to hear. On the part of Taylor Swift, this little challenge is like an offering made to Europe, which was slow to adopt it but ended up signing its total surrender.

Also read From TikTok to Instagram, how Taylor Swift relies on social networks to consolidate her success

The triumph is total, even when Taylor Swift reduces the sail on a natural sequence devoted to her two 2020 albums, Folklore and Evermore, more folk and introspective. This is the only moment where we will see her alone on stage, alternating between guitar (not glitter this time) and piano, in a rare, short-lived moment of respite. But since “The Show must go on” she is soon off again for an extravagant lap. After three hours and fifteen minutes of lively show, a credits introduces the many speakers of the show. But not Taylor's mother, who arrived discreetly in the afternoon for her first long-term stay in Paris. Three more performances and the Taylor Swift caravan will continue until the last days of 2024.

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