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Taylor Swift, an undeniable goddess whose kingdom is better than her songs

The star overwhelmed 65,000 fans in Madrid with a fantastic show that multiplied the effect of a significantly less impressive repertoire

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift's concert at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid on Wednesday.Claudio Álvarez

Is Taylor Swift such a big deal? These few words formulate the biggest question confronting modern man in the realm not just of culture and entertainment, but also of sociology, economics and even geopolitics. At 8:14 p.m. on Wednesday we began to unravel the mystery at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium (a 13-minute delay would have been nice, to preserve the totemic number), and we must agree that The Eras Tour it is the most grandiose, overwhelming, sophisticated and superlative spectacle in the collective memory of the Western world. It represents a masterly exercise in mass seduction through the fast track of hyperbole. All one could do was to enjoy the deployment of technology and human capital (you still have things to learn, Rosalía) that unfolded over the course of three hours and 19 minutes with millimetric scenic mastery, but without the feeling that the diva was sparing her energy or did not know whether she was in Madrid or Sevastopol.

In truth, the bracelets with lights that flash to the rhythm of the music were already introduced by Coldplay at the Vicente Calderón stadium back in 2012, which in terms of stage technology is like talking about a hundred years ago. But the deployment of catwalks, mobile platforms that elevate and engulf the artist, little forest cabins (in Cardigan and successive songs), neon cyclists, real and figurative pyrotechnics, reckless flares, audiovisual production and special effects (like that burning house at the end of Lover) is eye-popping. And it proves that at this point, the artist from Pennsylvania is not just a boss lady, which she is, but the supreme being of a new monotheistic religion. The fervor and the shouting were immeasurable — they made a joke out of the hysteria over those kids from Liverpool at Shea Stadium — only that the sound is now superb, even more so for what is typical in large venues.

Another 65,000 souls can attest to all this, as the artist herself announced from the stage (it didn’t look like quite so many), amid what was surely the highest concentration of sequins and glitter ever remembered in the Iberian territory. The most curious, and even moving aspect of the whole thing is that Taylor seemed to be sincerely moved when she saw, for yet another night, the dimensions of the chaos she had caused around her. It even looked difficult for her to find the right words after three minutes of a standing ovation triggered by the beautiful Champagne Problems, which she personally led in front of the grand piano.

Taylor Swift, at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium on Wednesday.
Taylor Swift, at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium on Wednesday.Xavi Torrent/TAS24 (Getty Images for TAS Rights Mana)

Because Swift clearly knows that she was born to be queen and not abdicate the crown for many years to come; just as not only pop music, but the world itself, have understood that we urgently needed an incontestable leader. The heroine exhibited a beautiful voice, issued orders and commands without any stridency throughout the night, and fostered a kind of collective brain fog that went beyond the fact that she is beautiful, stylish and the owner of an overwhelming wardrobe. But listening carefully to 45 songs during three long hours also confirms the suspicions that her repertoire, already into the eleventh album, does not run parallel to that supreme enthusiasm that she generates.

The segment from her youth albums is a pure trompe l’oeil, a catalog of successful pop songs without a hint of caffeine in which it is difficult to scratch beyond the empowered and unapologetic manifesto of Ready For It, those 10 minutes that seem less of All Too Well, the throat-breaking chorus in We Are Never Getting Back Together or the imposition of the hat at the end of 22, which fell to a very young Swiftie who now has a great story to share many years from now with her grandchildren. And, of course, the accelerated and overwhelming tandem of Blank Space and Shake It Off, two songs that release more vitamin D than an entire Hydroferol tablet.

Taylor Swift, in Madrid.
Taylor Swift, in Madrid.Claudio Álvarez

The plot gaps can always be compensated for with a display of scenic ingenuity, with up to 14 dancers (pay attention to those giant petals that unfold at the beginning of the show) and a dozen musicians arranged in the corners of the stage but who are given several well-deserved moments of glory. Everything improves substantially in the section devoted to Folklore and Evermore, two sister albums that are, by far, the most inspired and adult work by Swift; this part of the show also incorporates wonderfully telluric choreography for Willow. But The Tortured Poets Department, her highly publicized new album, leaves the door of doubt wide open.

The magic of the live performance cushions the narcotic effects of the original phonographic record, two hours that seem designed to obtain the blessings of the College of Dentists. Swift relegates this segment to the last part of the evening and spices it up with an exquisite nuclear white staging in which nothing is missing, not even a rotating platform (Who’s Afraid Of Little Old Me) with which, in case something was missing from her resume, she could have also won the Eurovision song contest.

Taylor Swift, at the beginning of the concert.
Taylor Swift, at the beginning of the concert.Claudio Álvarez

Taylor herself might not be such a big deal, but “Taylor’s thing,” her power, her sorority, her empathy and her brutal commitment to the show (even to cabaret, with I Can Do It With A Broken Heart), is. And in the middle of a montage of cyclopean dimensions, she has the great pleasure of reserving a couple of surprise songs every night, singing by herself and playing the guitar or the piano. On Wednesday it was Sparks Fly and an intersection between I Look In People’s Windows and Snow On The Beach.

There are magnificent electropop ingredients in Midnights, the era that serves to close the show. And amid all the dancing, the confetti and the fireworks, it was touching to think of all the kids who must have had to raise funds among their grandparents in order to buy their concert ticket and who will wake up on Thursday still wrapped in a nebula, because it is not every day that a deity comes down to Earth to tell you: “Nice to meet you. Excellent, Madrid.” But, if we want to persevere as the Greatest Muse of Our Days, we should also raise the bar of songwriting to the levels of its staging. And note that, in these times of supposed diversity and 90,000 new songs every Friday on Spotify, seamless unanimity represents a beautiful paradox.

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