Taylor Swift has a cold, still soars at first and only 2016 show
When Taylor Swift took the stage in Austin, Texas Saturday evening for her first and only show of 2016, she had a little confession to make to the crowd of 80,000: She was sick. "Of course you play one show in one year and get a cold one time. That's just how life works," she wisecracked.
The superstar was brought down to earth by the common cold, occasionally stopping the show for a few seconds to blow her nose onstage. Hardly headline news, but Taylor Swift, celebrating a decade in the business this week, certainly understands more than most that we want our pop stars to be at least a bit of a perfect-alien-from-another-planet, however much we insist they be relatable.
Swift has walked that impossible tightrope her whole career, and she got a chance to showcase both sides of her image during her disappointingly brief 70ish-minute set Saturday. She confirmed it would be the only show she plays this year (likely putting to rest rumors of an album drop in Q4).
Kicking things off as a polished pop star with "New Romantics," Swift emerged from a cloud of smoke in a sparkly black minidress, the only outfit she would wear the whole night.
She was sans dancers for the evening, and the minimalist approach continued with just three onstage backup singers — and zero "welcome to the stage" special guests — to help her out. The star is a pro at working a crowd, so she quickly got everyone dancing to some of her best-loved tunes ("22," "I Knew You Were Trouble") to start the evening strong.
RELATED: An inside look at Taylor Swift's most famous boyfriends:
But while "pop superstar playing her recent smashes" is always going to comes across well, the biggest treat of the night was that Swift — freed up from promoting a specific work — got to dig deep into her strong back catalogue. Fans screamed with joy as she pulled out her acoustic guitar and revisited tracks she hasn't played in ages, showcasing a gorgeous "Holy Ground" and allowing herself to get fully nostalgic on "Fifteen.
Star polish mixed with every-lady charm melded together best about two-thirds of the way through the show, when a ridiculously sparkly silver piano appeared and Swift took fans through some of her most emotionally fulfilling work (though she didn't play "All Too Well," which seemed a bit of a missed moment as fans loudly started chanting for it the second they saw the piano).
Instead, she broke out her first-ever concert performance of the Calvin Harris-Rihanna smash she co-wrote, "This Is What You Came For," as well as Fearless gem "Sparks Fly" (complete with plenty of actual fireworks, natch). Not to mention a gorgeous mashup of "Enchanted" and "Wildest Dreams," which will ring familiar to anyone lucky enough to have caught it during 2015's 1989 tour.
While the crowd was likely eager to hear from Swift on a variety of topics, the singer eschewed much "Clean"-esque candor in favor of just playing the hits. While she certainly noted her appreciation for the fans, she kept the inspirational stuff to a minimum and didn't give any clues as to what the future may sound like.
Additionally, there was no Meredith Grey and Olivia Benson check in, no sly reference to Tom Hiddleston or a new paramour, and certainly no Kim and Kayne talk.
Of course, that shouldn't be surprising. After all, you don't last a decade in the business without knowing how to shake it off — which, backed by some fireworks and flashing lights, is just what she managed to do.
Full Set List:
I Knew You Were Trouble
You Belong With Me
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together/Bad Blood
This Is What You Came For
Out of the Woods
Shake It Off