Aug 11, 2011

Taylor Swift, NeedToBreathe, and Hunter Hayes at Allstate Arena on 8/10/11

These girls were hoping for a pit pass...

"I Flip My Hair Back and Forth" (Oh wait, that is Willow Smith right?)

The show was quite the Broadway production - complete with gymnastics, aerialists, acting, ballet, jazz dance, pyrotechnics, numerous wardrobe changes and singing! Taylor puts on a great show. How my daughter fell asleep during the last three songs, I'll never know.

Here is a brief video I took of the finale extravaganza complete with Taylor soaring over the crowd in her Juliet balcony, aerialists on stage, and tinsel confetti "rain" released for added effect (and my little girl was asleep through this spectacle).

Here is a close up video of "Speak Now" from a You tube poster who was up close. This one gives you the idea of the Broadway production of it all.

This picture was taken from a local country radio station. Notice the drawn on arm tattoo.

Taylor wrote the words "If you wanna be somebody else, change your mind" on her left arm. Of course the "somebody else" for most of the girls in the audience is either Taylor or her BFF. My daughter told me to put down the camera and enjoy the show. She claims that "she does not want to be famous like Taylor Swift". I need to explore the rationale with her further. I do agree that having to organize/be responsible for 50 moving vans worth of tour gear, equipment, instruments, speakers, amps, sets and on and on, is a lot of pressure. At least the moving vans are unlikely to be stolen (reference to the band, Portugal. The Man, at Lollapalooza having their small regular sized van stolen with every piece of hard earned equipment, instruments and the like, in it).

This well-crafted show was perfect for a mother daughter bonding experience especially if your daughter is 8 years old and still playing with American Girl dolls. The choreographed event was completely rated G for Girly and Goody Goody and it was squeaky clean. I for one was glad that I did not take my daughter to see Katy Perry (although tempted but used better parental judgement) or even Selena Gomez, who will likely be a bit more risque and show a bit more cleave (however age appropriate). The frocks worn by Taylor and her dancers covered more than enough skin and revealed, for the most part, nothing below the knee cap. As a role model, you could find no one better. Critics might not like the fully staged, canned conversation with the audience, and thus disingenuous event. This format will not work as the aging process rears its ugly head at Taylor. For now, in all her youthfulness, she can pull it off hands down.

My favorite songs of the night involved Taylor breaking out the banjo and performing ho-down style jumping around the stage with her band-mates. I also liked that she was escorted through the middle of the crowd (by her bodyguards) to the opposite end of the arena in order to do an acoustic set while sitting on top of a pedestal that rotated 360 degrees. My understanding is that she does a new cover of a song at most of her tour stops during this point in the show. On this night she covered Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me". She also used a Ukelele to play "Fearless" which makes me want to break out my kids ukeleles and try it. To Taylor's credit, for being all of 22 years old, she is talented and a force to be reckoned with. All the off-key singing of every lyric and screaming by 14,000 daughters (not sure I saw one boy there) and mothers, must mean fame. It was a highly entertaining show and well-worth the broker price I paid for tickets just to see my daughter sing her little heart out at the top of her lungs.

I was actually excited to learn that NEEDTOBREATHE was opening for Taylor. This South Carolina band fronted by Bear Rinehart was on my list of bands to see. They are considered contemporary rock but I have since come to learn that they have quite a following in the Christian rock world (hmmmm). Bear has a very soulful voice and the band often plays at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. They are worth checking out.

Lastly, the first opening act was a young 19 year old country singer, Hudson Hayes. He was adorable and talented. Apparently he lucked out by meeting Taylor at last years VMA awards and sending her an ipod filled with his music and videos. She signed him on to her tour after listening. Good move young lad. It pays to put yourself out there.

All in all, the show get's a 5 guitar rating. I am tempted to take off a star for acoustics but really are acoustics ever great in any large venue? Taylor did not lip sync (based on my assessment of her use of the mic), the set was magical, and the performance including acrobatics, was flawless if not fearless.

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