On The Download: Taylor Swift Live At Staples Center

I’ve been looking forward to seeing Taylor Swift perform live since she first burst onto the scene with her self-titled debut album in 2006. Why I hadn’t seen her in concert yet is something I just can’t answer, but I am very happy to say that I no longer carry that shame with me. And after what I experienced, it was worth every anxious moment of waiting and every single penny.

Taylor brought her “Speak Now World Tour” to the Staples Center in Los Angeles for a sold out, four-night engagement.

Now, I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life — from tiny clubs to huge sports arenas like this one, and I can honestly say, this is the biggest production I have ever seen for a concert. Elaborate sets, lights, fireworks, and dancers adorned the stage for the two-hour spectacle.

It was utter pandemonium. Fans carried signs, sparkly lights, and wore specially made T-shirts. As Taylor welcomed the sold-out crowd of 13,500 (which was her estimate, but I’m pretty sure it was much more than that), it was easy to see that she was very humbled and thankful for her legions of fans. It was also obvious how appreciative she was of her fans and loved the sound of thousands of people singing every lyric of every song. And to thank us, she gave us all a spectacular show.

When the lights dimmed, the crowd went crazy waiting for her to make her appearance. Once the lights came up, we literally “see the lights, see the party, the ball gowns” and Taylor made her way through the crowd and opened with “Sparks Fly.”

Once the opening number ended, the audience went from loud to deafening. It was nonstop cheering for several minutes as the country superstar just stood there taking it all in until moving onto her next song, “Mine,” during which she flashed her signature heart symbol with her hands, which prompted the entire audience to do the same. Taylor’s performance of “The Story of Us” was the first sign that we were in for a very entertaining night. The singer and her backup dancers put on a play for us, acting out the lyrics and dancing in unison on an ornate set.

Taylor then simplified things when she donned a new outfit and brought out the banjo for “Our Song” (from her first album) and her current hit, “Mean.” Then she disappeared, before rising up onto the stage and sitting at a piano for “Back to December,” while surrounded by violin players lined up on a bridge behind her. Towards the end, as the music built up, she turned it into medley with OneRepublic’s song “Apologize.”

After another quick change, Taylor had the crowd on their feet and dancing for “Better Than Revenge.” The stage then turned into a church wedding scene for her song “Speak Now,” where she interrupts a wedding to try and steal away the groom. It was a very cute number that had Taylor and her backup singers and dancers channeling The Shirelles and other girl groups of the past.

With security guards in tow, she then charged through the audience to the floor seats and sat at a decorative rotating tree to get closer to the people who were further away from the stage. Armed with just her guitar, she serenaded us with her songs “Fearless” and “Last Kiss” before launching into some cover songs. I personally loved her rendition of “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys.

Then it was back to the stage for the crowd favorite, “You Belong With Me.” The previous night, Justin Bieber came out to perform his song “Baby” alongside Taylor. I was curious to see who her special guest for this evening would be. I jumped to my feet in excitement when I saw Jason Mraz rise up from underneath the stage for a duet of his song “I’m Yours.” Taylor closed with the dramatic song, “Haunted,” from her current album, complete with daring acrobatics.

Throughout the show, I couldn’t help but notice how much her voice has grown in the last of couple years. It effortlessly filled the entire arena. I was so pleased to see how much she has improved vocally. It’s clear that she’s beginning to find her confidence. I’m sure it helps to be traveling all over the world for this tour and she’s definitely got stamina to spare. While watching her close-ups on the big screen next to the stage, I found her facial expressions to be simply priceless. She knew exactly how and when to ham it up for the audience.

When it was time for her encore, Taylor had already been performing for nearly two hours. She seemed to outlast some of her fans. She came back out on stage for “Fifteen” and the song I was hoping she’d end the show with: “Love Story.” I definitely wasn’t disappointed. I was back on my feet and singing along as Taylor stepped onto a balcony attached to a cable and flew through the air, reaching all ends of the arena and giving every single fan a thrill.

Taylor is touring across the country through November. The majority of her shows are completely sold out, but if you can get your hands on some tickets, you won’t regret it.

If you already have tickets, hold onto them as tight as you can and enjoy every moment of this incredible show starring a phenomenal young woman who just wants to tell you some stories about her life. You’ll find yourself hanging on to every word.

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