Taylor-mania swept into Southern California on Friday when Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour reached Staples Center for the first show in a highly anticipated five-night run.
The Times will have a full review of the concert soon — along with a backstage report from our resident super-fan — but until then, here are five quick thoughts on Swift’s debut.
- “There may be some surprises tonight,” the singer said not long after taking the stage, and sure enough, she went on to add yet another pop-star cameo to the growing collection she’s been building all summer. On Friday, it was Ryan Tedder of One Republic, who dropped in to sing his hit “Counting Stars.” Did his low-key presence set Staples on fire the way, say, Selena Gomez or Calvin Harris likely would have? Nope. But “Counting Stars” probably never sounded as good as it did with Swift’s help on the chorus.
- Swift’s second unannounced visitor was the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who after strolling to the end of an extremely long catwalk during “Style” asked the singer’s band to quiet down because he had something to say. That’s when he directed Swift’s attention to a new banner in the arena’s rafters recognizing her for selling out more concerts at Staples Center than any other artist. The total, according to Bryant: 16, including the five she’s playing through Wednesday.
- Always a talky performer, Swift has gotten downright long-winded on the road. Several times between songs she launched into lengthy monologues — muchlonger than I remember from her gig at May’s Rock in Rio USA festival — about how much she values her fans’ devotion and how they shouldn’t let anyone define their lives for them.
- She clearly hasn’t tired of the chewy 1980s-pop textures she helped devise for her album “1989.” Here, she extended “Style” and “Out of the Woods,” visibly grooving to the “Miami Vice” guitars and Fine Young Cannibals percussion, and remade the older “Love Story” as a gloomy synth ballad that would’ve fit right into “The Breakfast Club.”
- “Wildest Dreams,” which Swift has said will be the next single from her album, sounds like cut-rate Lana Del Rey in its original version. But at Staples, where the singer played the song on piano (and mashed it together with a bit of “Enchanted”), “Wildest Dreams” shimmered more seductively than anything else in her set. Is it too late for a radio redo?